Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow Just Says No to Recreational Marijuana Sales in His Town

Article by Kim Zarzour, Toronto Star

Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow just says no to recreational marijuana sales in his town Richmond Hill council unanimously approved a motion saying the town is not a willing host of a cannabis retail location.. Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow is opposed to having a cannabis retail location in the community.  (DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

“Thanks but no thanks.”

That was the answer Monday night from local councillors to a suggestion Richmond Hill should be one of the first host towns for legal recreational marijuana sales.

The town of Richmond Hill received a letter Nov. 28 from the Ministry of Finance announcing a cannabis store may be coming to town in July 2018.

“We are not interested,” Mayor Dave Barrow said at a committee of the whole meeting this week.

Barrow presented a motion that, if given final approval Monday, would tell the provincial government Richmond Hill is not a willing host of a cannabis retail location in the community.

The motion was given unanimous approval by councillors at the Dec. 4 committee of the whole meeting.

The province intends to open 40 stand-alone stores by July 2018, an additional 80 by July 2019 and 150 by 2020.

Last month, Ontario named 14 cities to have the first LCBO-run recreational marijuana stores. Vaughan is the first to be identified in York Region and has not voiced an official opinion; instead it has created an interdepartmental cannabis working group.

Conversations with additional municipalities are happening now, ministry spokesperson Scott Blodgett said.

“The LCBO will post a list of those additional municipalities once the initial engagement is complete.”

But Richmond Hill councillors reacted quickly to the province’s overtures.

Richmond Hill Councillor Castro Liu said he conducted an online survey of his community and received more than 11,000 responses within four days — 90 per cent of whom said they do not want a retail outlet in Richmond Hill.

“Please, give us something we asked for, like a subway,” Liu said. “Don’t give us something that we didn’t ask for.”

Regional Councillor Vito Spatafora said an investigation by the York Regional Police Services Board raised important concerns. Communities that already have legalized recreational marijuana have more cannabis consumption and more demand for police resources, enforcement calls and Criminal Code and highway traffic act offences, he said.

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