Faced with regulating where cannabis retailers and producers could set up in Lacombe, council agreed the best approach was keep it simple.
“The City of Lacombe took a different approach than many of the municipalities in Alberta,” said chief administrative officer Matthew Goudy. “We chose to regulate strictly through our existing Land Use Bylaw.
“We haven’t got any setbacks or created any new systems for staff to monitor between proximity of different uses and that sort of thing.
“We’re just treating it basically the same as alcohol in the community, both in terms of retail sales and consumption.”
Goudy said the city does not have setbacks in place around liquor stores, which are regulating using Land Use Bylaw zoning.
“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to find a way not to regulate through setbacks, and the creation of a whole other system that staff would have to create.”
The city, which set up a Cannabis Readiness Committee to review the implications of legalized marijuana, did not see the value in developing a system that required constantly updating maps to determine where the latest liquor or cannabis store was located and how close it was to parks or schools.
“Whatever you’re setting back from you now have to keep track of that on a GIS mapping system. We saw a lot of opportunities for mistakes to occur in that type of system. We didn’t see the up side.”
Mayor Grant Creasey also said the city’s approach is all about clarity.
“Council wants to ensure that when legalization occurs next month, there is no confusion around the appropriate land use districts for cannabis sales, production and distribution.”
Council’s bylaw passed Monday permitting cannabis stores in the downtown, transitional and highway commercial districts and the shopping centre and light industrial districts.
Cannabis stores will also be considered in neighbourhood commercial and direct control districts but those applications are considered discretionary and must be approved by the municipal planning commission.
Production and distribution operations will be permitted uses in light and heavy industrial districts and discretionary in transitional and highway commercial districts and shopping centre and direct control districts. Following public feedback, cannabis production and retail will be prohibited in a light industrial area at 40 Brownstone Road and the Winks convenience store at 5536 58th St.
Creasey said residents are more concerned about how the city plans to handle cannabis consumption, an issue council will be addressing soon.
Many communities have opted to treat cannabis consumption the same as alcohol, where public consumption is largely prohibited. Lacombe is considering a similar approach.