By now, most of the Christmas tree lightings, parades and sleigh rides have happened this year and they were all wonderful. The weather cooperated and provided some snow and conditions not too cold and windy. The special aspect of these is how much the children enjoy them, with their looks of wonder, anticipation and happiness. Thank you to the many volunteers and donors who organize and make these events happen, including clean up afterward. Thank you to Springwater staff and firefighters and Simcoe County paramedics who work at these, conduct food and toy drives, sell Christmas trees and provide transportation for Santa and others during these events. Last but not least, thank you to the resident parents and children who support these events by being in parades, sometimes with floats, marching and in bands and for the observers, who cheer and bring donations of food and/or toys. It is what our communities are all about – bringing people together to celebrate and share fun.
Springwater Council Inauguration
Springwater’s Inaugural meeting on December 5, 2018 was a great event. As advertised, it was open to the public and about 185 people attended so we needed to move it to the Elmvale Community Centre to be able to hold the numbers. Thank you for the support of the dignitaries in attendance. Staff did a great job of preparing for this and all in attendance appeared to have a great time. I was very appreciative to have my daughter be able to sing a song for us, accompanied by a local guitar player.
First Springwater Council Meeting
The first regular meeting of the new council was on December 12th. We dealt with altering aspects of the agenda format and approving the appointment of council members to certain boards, committees and agencies. Other topics reviewed are described below.
Appointment of Integrity Commissioner
The Municipal Act requires, by March 1, 2019, that all municipalities appoint an Integrity Commissioner (IC), to ensure the creation of a code of a conduct for council and boards/committees, ethical behaviour procedures, rules and policies and conflict of interest rules. In mid-2017 County of Simcoe initiated a joint procurement process for the appointment of an IC in the most efficient and least costly manner. Principles Integrity was selected as the successful proponent. Council will consider this week whether Principles Integrity be appointed as the Integrity Commissioner for the Township of Springwater effective January 1, 2019. If the appointment is approved, Council will be scheduled for an education session with Principles Integrity regarding the adoption of a Code of Conduct in early 2019.
As the functions of the IC are broad and highly situational, the potential financial implications are difficult to estimate. At this time, staff have included a budget amount of $5,000 for IC services in 2019.
Private Retail Cannabis
An information report was presented to Council this week to inform and provide updated information related to legalized cannabis. Staff will be reporting back to Council in early January 2019 seeking a Township resolution related to “opting -in/-out” of private retail cannabis stores in Springwater. Further, Township staff have raised a number of items related to cannabis implementation that will require future consideration including: Commercial-scale production of cannabis, Municipal usage/consumption By-laws, Operation of private establishments serving as ‘cannabis lounges’ and other aspects.
On October 17, 2018 cannabis was legalized initially online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website. Private cannabis retail stores will be permitted in Ontario after April 1, 2019 and those stores will be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO).
Municipalities have a one-time opportunity to ‘opt out’ from allowing private retail cannabis stores (commercial sales of cannabis) to be located within their municipal boundaries. A resolution passed by Council to ‘opt out’ is required no later than January 22, 2019. If a municipality does not ‘opt-out’ by the January 22, 2019 deadline, they will not be able to ‘opt out’ at a later date.
The AGCO will keep a public list of municipalities that have ‘opted-out’ of hosting private retail cannabis stores and operators will not be able to propose store locations in those communities. In such instances, cannabis will continue to be legally available online to the public through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
In municipalities that decide to ‘opt-in’ and accept the Province’s private retail model, the Province, through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, will accept applications for private retail cannabis storefronts scheduled to open after April 1, 2019.
There will be a 15-day window for public and municipal comments for each store site proposed by an approved operator. Municipalities will need to their comments on whether the proposed store is in the “public interest”, defined as public health or safety, protecting youth and eliminating the illegal market.
A retail store may only be established and operated by a licensed retail operator, as issued by the Province. The retail store must be enclosed by walls separating it from any other commercial establishment, activity or outdoor area. The retail store may not be entered from or passed through in order to access any other commercial establishment or activity, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall. In addition, the premises at which the cannabis is received or stored may not be accessible to any other commercial establishment, activity, or to the public. A cannabis retail store may not be located within 150 metres (492 feet) of a school or school property, or within 150 metres (492 feet) of the boundary of any space occupied by a school within a building. Applicants will be permitted up to seventy-five (75) retail store authorizations.
Retail cannabis stores may be open to the public between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on any day. The stores may sell cannabis accessories like rolling papers or wraps, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers. The retail store must display the cannabis retail seal in a conspicuous place that is visible from the exterior of the public entrance. The holder of the retail store is responsible for ensuring no individual who appears to be under 25 years of age to enter the retail store unless the holder of the store or employee has required the individual to provide a form of identification, or the holder or employee is satisfied that the individual is at least 19 years of age.
The Province has allocated a total of $40 million to the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF), to assist municipalities with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. Basic funding is to be provided to all municipalities regardless of their opt-in/opt-out status starting in early January 2019. A second follow up payment will be provided to municipalities and adjusted on a per capita basis to municipalities which have ‘opted-in’. The Township received an allocation notice from the Province indicating the Township of Springwater will receive a total of $9,940 for the first payment in January 2019. Following the first payment, a second payment is planned to be distributed by March 2019. For municipalities which have opted-in, the secondary payment will mirror the first payment. Additionally, if Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis exceeds $100 million over the first two years, the Province will provide 50 per cent of the surplus to municipalities that have not opted-out.
Municipalities must use the funding to address costs directly related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Examples of permitted costs includes increased enforcement, increased response to public inquiries, increased fire services, By-law/policy development etc. Municipalities’ may not use the money for costs that will be funded/reimbursed by any other government body or third party and may not use the funding for costs unrelated to cannabis legalization.
County Simcoe Inaugural meeting occurred this week. Council elected Mayor George Cornell of Tiny as the Warden and Deputy Mayor Barry Burton of Clearview as Deputy Warden. The Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the business sections had not been determined by the deadline for this issue. Each of these positions will be for a two-year term.
I have moved into an office in the Springwater administration building and would be glad to see you any time. Please call me to discuss matters or make an appointment if you want to meet. 705-728-4784 ext. 2040.
My wife Wanda and I extend our best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas and a healthy happy New Year.
Mayor Don Allen – Leadership Driving Us Forward!
These are my thoughts and interpretations and not necessarily those of Council.