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Survey would seek citizen opinion on private pot stores in Prince Edward County

UPDATE: Committee of the Whole supported moving approval of the survey to council’s Nov. 27 meeting.

Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development, noted benefits of a telephone survey as well as online and in hard copy, allow empirical results as well as polarized opinions expected, giving legitimate sentiments of the community.

Discussion concerned whether spending $5-10,000 not budgeted was wise, and whether the survey decision should be left to the new council taking over Dec. 1.

CAO James Hepburn noted the need for adequate time to consult with the public and to provide input for the new council that must make its decision by Jan. 22.

Councillor Bill Roberts noted other communities who have done surveys have turned up useful information above and beyond whether to have or not have private retail cannabis sales in the community.

“For example, several communities have said ‘OK with the private, but not in our heritage designated areas, for example. I support this. It has merit and value.”

Councillor Jancie Maynard said she applauds the outreach to the community, noting it is an example of promised engagement on an issue of broad public interest.

Mayor-elect Steve Ferguson stated the surveys were appropriate action to take given the sensitivity of the matter.

“This morning’s Globe and Mail article was certainly eye-opening, indicating that the goal posts keep being moved, or adjusted.” He added the incoming council will have a lot on its plate and was pleased to hear staff could get its report back before council before the January 22nd deadline.

Mayor Robert Quaiff spoke to the need to involve concerns of the the County’s OPP.

“There is a lot more to this than just opting in or opting out. We’re going to need input on community safety from the OPP’s perspective as well.”

Councillor Gord Fox thought the survey a waste of money.

“As I understand it, these shops are going to be under the complete control of the provincial government. So I see no advantage to the County in having a cannabis store. Besides that, I also think what’s going to happen is that if anybody wants a little toke, they’re going to go across the bridge because they’re going to be able to buy it cheaper.”

Maynard reminded that purchasing cannabis anywhere other than online is illegal.

* * *

NOV 14: Municipal staff are recommending council get County residents’ opinions on allowing private cannabis retail establishments in the community.

The process involves telephone, online and hard-copy surveys to produce a report and recommendations for a council decision that needs to be made by the January 22 municipal private cannabis retail establishments opt out deadline.

Under the Ontario Cannabis Act, the provincially-run Ontario Cannabis Store will only provide online sales, with no physical retail locations. The province is allowing municipalities until Jan. 22 to pass resolutions if they choose to opt out of having private stores.

While municipalities have the ability of reversing an opt-out decision in the future, that may impact the eligibility amount of cannabis excise tax funds received. Details of opting back in have not yet been released by the provincial government.

Municipalities are expected to receive at least $10,000 to support the transition to legal cannabis and additional funding is to be announced in the future.

The telephone survey would obtain feedback from “an appropriate sized” random sample of residents. The same survey questions would also be available online and in hard copies. The cost is expected to be between $5,000 – $10,000.

The recommendation comes to Thursday’s meeting of the Committee of the Whole at Shire Hall, beginning at 1 p.m.

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  1. Gary Mooney says:

    Given that the telephone survey will involve a random sample, and assuming the sample size is large enough, its results will be scientifically credible and representative of the whole population.

    But the online survey will be open to everyone. It could be that only those in favour will choose to participate, or only those opposed will participate. Because who are asked are not chosen at random by a third party, the results will not be scientifically credible — in fact, will be useless for decision-making.

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