Up in Smoke Not just the movie anymore…

What was illegal becomes legal.
The impacts of legal, non-medical cannabis will be felt at the local level where people live and interact every day. At the same time, Canadian youth use cannabis at amongst the highest rates in the world. What tools and resources will communities have to regulate location, hours, staffing, etc. of retail cannabis outlets? I recently posed this question to the Attorney General and was told the Province will be consulting with communities to determine what regulations are needed.
I believe that the wisest choice for Midland is to opt out of the retail outlet model until the Province has finished its consultations and the regulatory environment is clearer. This will give Council time to consult with the community to gauge the appetite for retail outlets and what regulations/controls residents wish to see placed on retail outlets if approved.
Recreational cannabis is a steep learning curve for all. What do we need to know and prepare for as October’s effective date for legalisation nears?

The facts as we know them:

On Monday August 13, the provincial government reversed the previous government’s approach on retail for recreational cannabis announcing that it will move ahead to allow private sector cannabis retail storefronts in Ontario. As of October 17, 2018 the provincially owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will be ready to manage on-line retail orders for cannabis. It will also be solely responsible for wholesale distribution in Ontario.
Licensed retail outlets will be allowed throughout the province as of April 01, 2019. Stores licensees will have to meet standard province-wide license criteria such as hours of operation and staff training. New municipal councils will be given the ability for a “one time” opt out of licensed sales in their communities after the municipal election. To be clear, if they opt out initially they can opt-in later. The government committed to providing $40 million of cannabis revenues to support municipal implementation costs over two years. If provincial cannabis revenues exceed $100 million, the government will share the surplus 50/50 with municipal governments.

  • The government will consult with municipalities, police, industry and other stakeholders to propose new legislation in the autumn to allow licensed, private retail cannabis sales by April 1, 2009
  • The minimum age for buying and possessing cannabis in Ontario is 19. Licensees caught selling cannabis to underage individuals will immediately lose their licenses.
  • Current cannabis retail establishments remain illegal. Unlicensed outlets are subject to severe, escalating fines.
  • Drugged driving will be subject to increased penalties and there will be zero tolerance for impaired young, novice and commercial drivers.
  • Consumption will be able to take place only in a private residence as of October 17.
  • Landlords and condominium boards are able to set rules on consumption.
    Federal law allows up to four plants to be grown in a residence.

What are our options municipally?

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) published the following:

AMO is a strong municipal voice in determining appropriate locations and concentrations that reflect communities’ needs and wants.

For municipal governments, these proposed changes will require some significant decisions. New councils will have to decide whether they wish to allow private licensed retail establishments or not. The mechanism for this decision is subject to consultation.

If councils do allow these establishments, they will need to amend their planning by-laws to set appropriate areas for this activity. It is not yet certain whether councils will be able to control for density or cap numbers. Passing this by-law with appropriate consultation by April 1, 2019 will be extremely challenging.

The licensing mechanism is yet to be set. Municipal licensing and enforcement could be significantly stretched if more is expected of them. Some Licensing by-laws would need to create them and hire enforcement by April 1, 2019 if municipal licensing is contemplated. While AMO supported municipal licensing for cannabis establishments in 2016, doing so now across Ontario is impractical. A provincial licensing body would be more appropriate.

Related to this, the $40 million over two years is not based on a significant increase in municipal licensing and enforcement. If these services are required, additional funding would be necessary.

My Commitment to Midland Residents:
I am committed to public consultation on whether Midland will permit retail outlets for cannabis within municipal limits. Municipal governments need all the necessary tools and information to protect all residents in our communities.

While this retail system consultation is starting up, I urge the provincial government to provide more public information now on how the on-line distribution system will work as of October 17 and the identify the checks and balances that will be put in place to ensure compliance with the law.

Midland Public Library’s Amazing Transformation Continues Apace

The Midland Public Library has undergone significant changes in the past 4 years as it strives to fulfill it’s Vision and Mission. I am proud to have served on the Board during the formative stages of the vision and mission statements and the development of the new strategic plan and policy manual. It is inspiring to witness what a motivated and engaged staff and Board can accomplish in such a short time. I will continue to support the Library’s initiatives as they pursue accreditation and the fulfilment of their strategic plan!

Vision Statement

Fostering lifelong learning and creativity in Midland and its neighbouring communities.

Mission Statement

The library will be the learning and leisure hub of the community providing knowledge, ideas, and technology in a collaborative space that sparks connections between people

Download MPL Strategic Plan

In a presentation to Council in November 2017 the Library’s CEO reported that for the period 2014 through 2017 the library experienced a significant increase in circulation, memberships, program offerings & participation, WiFi usage, the usage of their public computers. A Remarkable achievement by Library staff when you realize that the budget remained the same throughout the period!

Midland Public Library Memberships and Circulation

At the same presentation the Chief Librarian said plans for 2018 included progress towards the new makerspace, first floor redesign, improved collections and even more programming.  On Monday August 13, the Library CEO announced that therenovations to the first and second floors of the old portion of the building will start on September 1stwith completion of the 1stfloor by October 1stand first steps toward the makerspace by October 22ndin time for Ontario Public Library Week.  Yet another step in the amazing transformation of our Library in that process started just 4 years ago.

First floor renovations will see remodelling of the circulation desk to allow transformation of much of the space from staff use to space accessible for the public.   Public access computers will be on the 1stfloor making them more accessible to all folks and especially those with mobility challenges. A television, additional soft seating and a television round out the changes.

The makerspace will include 3D printers, a green room and digital media lab, vinyl cutters, laser cutters and a flexible open space for a variety of creative activities including pottery making.  The makerspace is part of the library’s broad approach to making science, engineering, technology and maths an enjoyable experience for young people from preschoolers to high school graduates.

Please take the time to visit the Library website ( www.midlandlibrary.com) and fill out their questionnaire.  Your feedback as a user or non-user guides the decisions of the Library as it maps out the services and programs that will best meet the needs of Midland and area patrons.