The RM of Hanover will not be holding a plebiscite this month on whether to allow retail cannabis sales in the municipality.
Reeve Stan Toews explains council passed a bylaw in May, stating it would not be allowing retail cannabis sales. But then the province informed Hanover that in order to make that bylaw official, it needed to hold a plebiscite.
Toews says council is not interested in a plebiscite and has found a different way to achieve the same goal. Council will make retail cannabis sales a separate use in their Zoning Bylaw and then not list it in any zoning category. Toews says by doing it this way, another Zoning Bylaw amendment will be required in order to add it to the list of uses. But, council can then deny the request at first reading every time without reason and without being subject to appeal.
"The way the bylaw is set up it will make it very difficult or almost impossible to have retail sales," notes Toews.
If future councils are open to retail cannabis sales, the municipality says it is then easier to make the change rather than bring in a plebiscite.
Toews says neither the province, nor the Association of Manitoba Municipalities have suggested Hanover is out of line in going this route.
Back in May when Hanover passed its bylaw, Toews noted government guidelines stipulate a retail cannabis store cannot be located within 300 metres of schools, playgrounds or parks. And, because they have to be placed within a commercial zone and must be stand-alone entities, it became very difficult to find a suitable location inside some of their small communities. In fact, Toews said this week that in all of Hanover, there is one commercial area just outside of a restricted zone in Grunthal where a shop could be set up.
Meanwhile, Toews says council is not interested in plebiscites or referendums as they tend to divide communities.