Future cannabis retailers are itching to set up shop ahead of October 17th, but the final say on where they can go is still weeks away.
The latest bylaw changes open up the majority of the old Warehouse District and downtown core for potential cannabis retail shops.
The executive directors of Regina’s business improvement districts raised concerns about prior amendments to the bylaw, arguing the original plan would ‘effectively eliminate downtown as a viable location for cannabis retail stores’.
“This is leveling the playing field, giving equal opportunity across the city,” Mayor Michael Fougere said. “I’m hoping that’s as clear as we can be.”
Councillor Andrew Stevens proposed setting the buffer zone between pot shops and areas frequented by children, as well as separation zone between stores to just half a block. After a split vote in council, the motion was defeated, meaning the 600 foot buffer will remain. This rule, however, does not apply in the busy downtown core.
Councillor Jerry Flegel doubted overcrowding would be an issue, even with a half-block buffer zone.
“As long as we’re respectful of a business that’s opening up in the city… We are talking about six (dispensaries),” Flegel noted. “Could be up north, could be Warehouse District, could be south, could be Harbour Landing, east end, downtown. We don’t know, let them decide.”
The amended bylaw will come back to the city for a vote at next month’s meeting. Councillors must vote unanimously at the third reading for the guideline to become law.
The city will also review the zoning bylaw for any necessary changes one year after the legal marijuana selling date of October 17.
While Mayor Fougere says there are still some questions around how the Regina Police Service will handle legalization, he believes the city is prepared.
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