After seeking public input and hearing from concerned citizens, Fort Saskatchewan city council has officially decided where residents will be able to shop for cannabis in the fall.
City council and staff have been working for months to prepare local regulations on cannabis sale, consumption and production ahead of long-awaited changes to federal law. The government of Canada recently announced Oct. 17 as the day cannabis use will be legal in the country.
Once new federal regulations come into effect, adults in Alberta will be able to legally use a limited quantity of recreational marijuana. All levels of government are playing a role in setting out regulatory details, with the province of Alberta giving municipalities powers to set out some rules of their own on local retail sales of cannabis.
The city has opted to take a moderate approach to cannabis sales, amending its land use bylaw to allow cannabis retailers to set up shop in certain parts of Fort Saskatchewan. Some commercial sites, like residential strip malls and corner stores, will be off limits.
"Basically what you're looking at is districts that are what we classify as away from schools, away from residential as much as possible,” said city councillor Lisa Makin. “So you're looking at high-traffic commercial areas. So generally speaking you'll be able to see a cannabis store location be somewhere in the highway corridor commercial areas and in an area such as Fort Station downtown."
The city is also bound by provincial laws dictating that cannabis stores must be a minimum of 100 metres from schools and hospitals and have daily maximum operating hours of 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Council's recently approved bylaw amendment will also see cannabis production and distribution permitted in light and medium industrial districts in the city. The city has yet to finalize rules on cannabis consumption in Fort Saskatchewan, with councillors and staff still ironing out details of the city’s new smoking bylaw, a topic set to come back to council in late August.