The Town of Ponoka is looking to amend its land-use bylaw that would set parameters around recreation and medical cannabis use. Legalizing cannabis use is expected to come through this summer. File photo

Ponoka to amend its land-use bylaw to meet cannabis legislation

A public hearing has been set for May 8 at 7 p.m. to hear from residents

With cannabis legislation just around the corner the Town of Ponoka is preparing for the legislative side of things.

Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development, told council April 10 during the regular meeting that Ponoka needs to amend its land-use bylaw. That change means first reading is needed and then council can hear from residents during a public hearing, set for May 8 at 7 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre.

Mayor Rick Bonnett pointed out that the town really has no say in the legalization of cannabis.

“We’re putting the definitions in the bylaw but we’re not doing anything with it,” added Coun. Teri Underhill.

This change is more a preparation of coming changes than anything; CAO Albert Flootman pointed out that the bylaw definition is really saying the town is not allowing cannabis sales until the land-use designation is there.

“We’re trying to control it now by putting the definitions in the bylaw,” said Flootman.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is accepting applications for the sale of cannabis but knows that municipalities cannot make any decisions without federal approval.

This is going to be a two-part process with the first being to clarify the definitions of recreational and medical cannabis use in the bylaw.

“Adding these new definitions enables the town to then determine which land use districts within Ponoka these uses may be allowed in, along with other applicable regulations,” states a press release from the town.

The second part of the process goes with public consultation. This will help determine appropriate locations for cannabis related purposes.

“The proposed bylaw may also include regulations such as minimum setback distances of cannabis-related uses from incompatible uses such as parks, schools, and community facilities,” states the release.

As cannabis related uses are still illegal, the town can’t actually receive or approve development permits for any recreational cannabis related uses.

There have been some rumours of applications received but that is not the case.

If all the legislative steps are approved and the land-use bylaw is amended to identify and regulate cannabis uses, “…cannabis may then be sold in specialty cannabis-only retail stores in Ponoka.”

The town points out that approvals would still need to meet federal and provincial legislation.

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