First council meeting goes to pot — and committee appointments
A week after being sworn-in, City of Kawartha Lakes Council assembled around its custom-designed triangular conference table in the heart of the refurbished chambers. They gathered to hear a presentation on retail cannabis sales and to approve appointments to boards, committees and CHEST Fund disbursements.
Cannabis Retail Storefronts
By the Jan. 22 deadline set by the Province, council must make a decision on whether to opt-in or opt-out of having private recreational cannabis retail storefronts in Kawartha Lakes.
CAO Ron Taylor and Senior Licensing Officer Alix Scarr, provided a presentation that served as an overview of federal, provincial, and municipal responsibilities and powers with respect to cannabis and outlined the financial implications for the decision council will be making.
The federal Cannabis Act outlines rules and regulations for the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis and establishes the overarching legislative framework for cannabis in Canada. Provinces and territories have been given the ability to set their own rules with respect to the sale, distribution, purchase, possession, transportation, cultivation and consumption of cannabis.
The municipality has limited power: it can opt-in or opt-out of allowing retail cannabis stores. Municipalities cannot create specific zoning or municipal licensing by-laws restricting, regulating or prohibiting private recreational cannabis retail stores, although the stores would have to respect existing by-laws. These storefronts would be permitted where retail stores are permitted under the applicable zoning by-law. Municipalities and the public would have input on applications for private recreational cannabis retail storefronts in our community through a 15-day public consultation period.
If Council votes to opt-in a minimum of $10,000 will be given in provincial funding to offset the costs of enforcement and other effects of legalization. In addition, if Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over the first two years of legalization exceeds $100 million, the Province would provide 50 per cent of the surplus to municipalities that have opted-in. Once opted-in, a municipality would not be able to opt-out at a later date.
If the municipality opts-out, we can opt-in at a later date but will not be eligible for any excise duty surplus pay-outs. In this case, the municipality will only receive $5,000 in provincial funding to offset costs of enforcement and other effects of legalization.
The Province has advised that there will be $40 million available in funding for municipalities over a two-year period to help with implementation costs. In early January of 2019, the first payment of $15 million of the total funding will be distributed to municipalities regardless if they opt-in or not. This amounts to approximately $100,000 for Kawartha Lakes.
A second payment is expected to be made in late 2019 to municipalities that do opt-in. In addition, there is also a $10 million fund that has been set aside by the province to address unforeseen circumstances related to implementation. Priority for this funding will be given to municipalities that have opted-in.
After the presentation, both Councillor Doug Elmslie and Councillor Emmett Yeo expressed the view that opting-in was the obvious decision. “We can’t keep it out of our communities,” said Yeo, and went on to note that not opting-in would worsen problems. “It’s inevitable,” said Elmslie, who was prepared to request a vote immediately. It was decided to hold off on a decision until after January 15, when staff will bring forward a report to council with whatever additional background information has been provided by the province.
Council appointments were made to a total of 37 committees, boards, and agencies. Some of these will have a single councillor; for example, Councillor Andrew Veale will be the sole council rep for the accessibility advisory committee, the agriculture development advisory committee and the library board. Three councillors will be on the joint social and housing services advisory committee (Elmslie, Pat Dunn, and Patrick O’Reilly) and four will be on the influential planning advisory board (Kathleen Seymour-Fagan, Veale, and O’Reilly along with Mayor Andy Letham).
Councillors have anywhere from six to 10 assignments. Whenever the focus is a particular ward, that councillor has been assigned. Ward 2 Councillor Elmslie’s portfolio, for example, includes the Fenelon Falls Powerlinks and landfill public review committees and Fenelon Falls museum board. Dunn and O’Reilly, whose wards share a Kent Street border both take seats on the Lindsay Downtown Business Improvement Area Board.
Clearly an effort has been made as well to capitalize on individual councillors’ expertise and their areas of particular interest. Ward 8 Councillor Tracy Richardson is co-owner of Pineneedle Farms in Pontypool, a nursery that specializes in native tree species. She will sit on the Kawartha Lakes environmental advisory committee, the Kawartha Lakes parks advisory board and the Ganaraska Region conservation authority board.
In closed session council considered and approved appointments to a number of committees, among them the accessibility advisory, planning advisory, and municipal heritage committees. In addition, appointments were made to the public library board, an independent incorporated body.
On the recommendation of the Bobcaygeon legacy C.H.E.S.T. fund grant committee, council approved funding for projects proposed by a total of 13 local organizations. The total amount disbursed was $87,026.
The largest grants:
Bobcaygeon Canada Day Committee ($13,274)
Impact 32 – Beautify Our Bobcaygeon ($12,105)
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 239 ($12,000)
Kawartha Settlers Village (($11,858)
Bobcaygeon Music Council ($9,000)
Boyd Heritage Museum ($8,000)
A total of $288,375 from the Lindsay Legacy C.H.E.S.T fund reserve was disbursed to seven organizations:
The Rotary Club of Lindsay ($69,264)
A Place Called Home ($60,656)
Proud Canadian Citizens Committee (sponsored by Optimist Club) ($52,306)
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 67 ($29,000)
United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes ($27,400)
Lindsay Lynx Hockey Association ($25,000)
Kawartha Art Gallery ($24,748)
On Dec. 13 councillors resume their seats in chambers to receive the 2019 proposed budget and business plan overview.