Article by Teviah Moro, Hamilton Spectator
Councillors want a provincial buffer-zone policy that prevents clusters of pot shops in Hamilton with dozens of applications for new outlets filed.
“We are a host city, but I just think this will be prudent and preventive down a road to avoid a disproportionate number of these in one location,” Coun. Tom Jackson said Friday.
In January 2019, council opted for legal private cannabis outlets in the city in a close vote ahead of Ontario’s rollout of licensed vendors.
At the time, council asked the province for a “radial separation” of 300 metres between certain community uses including schools, parks, nurseries and detox centres.
But the province’s rule only keeps cannabis stores 150 metres from schools.
On Friday, councillors backed Jackson’s motion to urge the province to “consider amending its licensing and application process” to include a radial separation between pot shops.
To date, Hamilton has eight cannabis outlets. As well, 50 are in various stages of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s application process.
Last year, council had the opportunity to delay opting for pot shops but instead made the “knee-jerk reaction” to go for them, Coun. Sam Merulla reminded his colleagues.
There was plenty of hype, said the Ward 4 councillor, who wanted the city to study the issue before making a decision.
But the city hasn’t gained anything from legal cannabis outlets except “pissed” residents, he argued Friday. “People can’t believe that we did what we did, but it is what it is and we have to now try to fix the issue.”