Opening up more potential cannabis retail and production sites in Red Deer is being recommended to city council.
Bylaws and licensing manager Erin Stuart will ask for council’s direction Monday about pursuing regulati0ns that would widen the number of spots where cannabis producers and retailers can locate in the city.
Since many unknowns existed around the introduction of legalized cannabis 14 months ago, council was initially conservative in allowing only 35 possible sites for marijuana retailers.
Mayor Tara Veer had suggested proceeding with caution to gauge public concern.
But no concerns have been expressed about the six cannabis retailers now operating in the city, said Stuart. She believes council should now consider widening local economic development opportunities.
Stuart is recommending what her department had originally proposed: For cannabis sales to become a discretionary use in the same areas where liquor can be sold — in malls, district shopping centres and areas such as Capstone/Riverlands.
The number of potential cannabis store locations would then increase to about 50. Stuart noted the same rules about staying 300 metres away from schools and day cares would apply.
She’s also recommending that cannabis production facilities be considered a discretionary use in light industrial parks, including Riverside. They are now only potentially allowed in heavy industrial portions of Queens Business Park and Edgar Industrial Park.
“Some folks have been exploring, and inquiring, about other site exceptions,” said Stuart.
So far, no marijuana production company has set up within city limits. But Stuart would like Red Deer to offer future developers a greater variety of sites to consider.
She said she does not believe a cannabis smell should be an issue, since there are methods of construction and new technologies that can reduce or capture odours.
Stuart believes an expansion of potential cannabis sites would “allow for future economic development opportunities for other districts.”
City council will discuss this at Monday’s meeting.