The Town of Olds has released results of its survey on the legalization of cannabis (also known as marijuana) and how its sale and consumption should be handled in the community.
The survey, held during the summer, was promoted through local news media as well as town hall. It was also shared on social media.
A total of 1,024 surveys were received.
Just under 80 per cent of respondents identified themselves as Olds residents. About 20 per cent said they were Mountain View County residents.
A report containing the results is available on the town’s website at www.olds.ca.
Under federal rules, recreational consumption of cannabis will become legal on Oct. 17.
A public hearing on amendments to the land use bylaw to enable and regulate cannabis-related businesses in the community was scheduled to be held yesterday (Monday, Sept. 10) in council chambers.
The survey noted that the provincial government says at a minimum, retail cannabis stores should be at least 100 metres (roughly the size of a football field) away from schools, health-care facilities and municipal and school reserve lands.
Fifty-one per cent of respondents said that distance (100-metre setback) is sufficient.
However, of those who said 100 metres is not enough, 84 per cent said the setback should be the maximum 300 metres noted in the survey.
On average, respondents said the minimum distance between a cannabis retail store and a liquor store should be at least 133 metres.
On average, respondents said the minimum distance between a cannabis retail store and a daycare or registered child care business should be 222 metres.
Also on average, they said the minimum distance between a cannabis retail store and a community facility like the Sportsplex, the library, museum or a community hall should be 202 metres.
Most said the minimum distance between a cannabis retail store and a church or other place of worship should be 162 metres.
On average, respondents said the minimum distance between a cannabis retail store and an outdoor public recreation space like a soccer or other sports field should be 200 metres.
They said the minimum separation distance from outdoor parks and green spaces should be 190 metres.
It was also suggested that cannabis retail stores should be located near the RCMP detachment “to monitor people.”
Another respondent said “there is no place for even having a cannabis store in Olds. (I am) totally against it.”
A concern was raised about having cannabis retail outlets anywhere near rehabilitation centres, detox centres and addiction counselling services.
“The hospital does not allow any smoking on their property. It is reasonable to make the community of Olds a smoke-free zone for all smoking,” a respondent wrote. “Other communities have done this. We could too if there is the political will and courage to do so.”
Fifty-one per cent of respondents said a commercial district is the most appropriate location for a cannabis store. Twenty-eight per cent said they should only be located in commercial areas, while 23 per cent said they could be in commercial and industrial areas.
Most respondents said retail cannabis stores should be allowed to be open the same hours as liquour stores: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
The Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act currently does not allow tobacco to be smoked within
five metres of a window, entrance or air intake of a public place.
Sixty per cent of respondents said stricter rules should apply to the smoking of cannabis and 40 per cent said they should be similar to those for tobacco consumption or more lenient.
Currently under the Alberta government’s Gaming and Liquor Act , alcohol can only be consumed in a private residence or licensed premise. Consuming alcohol in public places (buildings open to the public and streets) is prohibited.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they’d like the rules for cannabis consumption to be the same as they are for alcohol consumption.
The vast majority of respondents said cannabis should be consumed in private residences or private front yards, backyards, decks or balconies.
The survey noted cannabis “has a distinctive aroma.” On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being most concerned, respondents were asked how they felt about that aroma wafting out of public places. That concern was rated at about seven out of 10.