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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Cannabis Retail Policy Statement open house hosted in Essex Centre

Rita Jabbour, the Town of Essex’s Planner, displays the map that depicts where in Essex Centre a retail cannabis store could or could not be located, determined by the Provincial policy that mandates a setback from private and public schools. These setbacks would be used if the Town of Essex were to ever get a licence for such as establishment for Essex Centre.

by Sylene Argent

Essex residents had another opportunity to provide input for the Cannabis Retail Policy Statement the Town of Essex is currently creating. The policy statement would help guide the establishment of a retail cannabis store if the municipality were to get a license from the Provincial government.

  The Town hosted a similar event in Harrow previously.

  Town Planner, Rita Jabbaour, said that on October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis was legalized. Since, the Provincial government has issued 25 licences for retail cannabis stores, province-wide. And, in January, the Town of Essex “opted in” to having such a store.

  Jabbour noted the Ontario government has set out regulations in regards to retail cannabis stores, including that it be housed in a stand-alone (closed in) building and that a 150-meter setback from private and public schools be adhered to. Though the Town could not increase or decrease that setback if it were to ever get a licence, it could make suggestions of other setback area possibilities to the Province, which may or may not be implemented when and if the time comes. The suggestions would be forwarded through a Cannabis Retail Policy Statement.

  According to a map displayed during the open house, there are a few retail areas that could be permitted to house a cannabis store in Essex Centre, according to the Province’s school setback policy.

  This setback does block out a portion of the Essex Centre business district, recognizing the four local schools (Essex District High School, Holy Name Catholic Elementary School, Essex Public School, and Rock of Help), but leaves a few pockets open, including along Talbot Street from Victoria to Maidstone, along Maidstone Avenue East, the area along Talbot between Fairview Avenue and Gosfield Townline, and for a period of space along Talbot from either side of Iler Avenue.

  Through the statement, the Town can provide the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which will regulate such stores, with information regarding what other types of establishments the community may want to see the setback applied to, such as daycares, teen centres, libraries, or parks, for instance.    

  There are three points a Cannabis Retail Policy Statement must focus on to be considered when, and if, a license in issued, Jabbour said, including public health and safety, protecting youth, and eradicating the illegal sale of cannabis.

  Jabbour was pleased with the turnout at the Essex Centre version of the event, which attracted a higher turnout than the event hosted in Harrow.


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