UPDATE: Essex, Kingsville Councils to Vote on Retail Pot
Despite falling below the minimum population needed for a retail pot store, Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy is confident the town will opt-in while Mayor Nelson Santos says the question could go either way in Kingsville Monday night.
So far Leamington is the only municipality in Essex-County to opt-in, that doesn't include nearby Chatham-Kent and Pelee Island.
As it stands now, Bondy says many councillors are realizing they may never get a say on rules dictated by the province and it's time to just embrace change.
"We need four votes, that's what it comes down to. I think there's probably three, and there could be a swing vote out there that could go either way," says Bondy.
The Ward 4 councillor says provincial rules have changed so many times this past year that there's no reason things couldn't shift Essex's way in the next round of licences.
"There could be that benefit of opt-in that we do see a storefront. We have some vacancies in both Essex Centre and Harrow Centre," she says. "So why not support this and make sure we do it right, but at the end of the day the municipal policy strategy, we can do that at any time."
Santos doesn't see Kingsville's council getting swayed by claims the Ontario PC's could remove restrictions like they have on many other items since legalization.
"The rational that they don't have enough supply for the larger centres, which has been there debate, again I don't see a small centre outside a large-population area coming forward," he says. "We only have seven licences being issues south of London and that seven got chewed up pretty quick."
Bondy says it's here, it's legal, and residents are going to get it no matter what.
"The moral decision that's already been voted on by the federal government and I don't want to miss any opportunities," says Bondy.
"I think it's important that council look at how we can endorse this and how can we make this happen because our residents will go to other cities if they want it."
Santos tells AM800 News the only factor that can sway council to opt-in is added cash.
"There's going to be a good discussion around the table knowing that a year, or two-years away from even having the potential to qualify, there's funding in the interim," says Santos. "That will help us deal with concerns and responses that we're currently dealing with since the legalization of marijuana."
LaSalle, Lakeshore and Tecumseh have already opted-out.
Amherstburg and Windsor will vote Jan 21 — the deadline to opt-out is Jan. 22 or municipalities will automatically opt-in for retail pot sales.