Pembroke Opts In To Cananbis Store Lottery

Pembroke is saying “yes” to a future cannabis store.

City Council voted unanimously last night to opt in to the provincial lottery system for store licenses. 

Although the province is only awarding the first 25 stores in communities with more than 50,000 people, Mayor Mike LeMay says it just makes sense to keep the door open.

“I think it’s a good move to make because number one, it’s a legal product", LeMay told Star 96.7 at City Hall on Tuesday night.

"When you have a legal product nationally and provincially, you’re looking at your communities and saying -- economic impact, we don’t know what it’ll be down the road -- but it’s important to look at all of those things".

But, LeMay added, there are still safety concerns surrounding any future store.

"I think it’s important that we have safety factors in there”, he added.

"I guess my main concern is that municipalities have no control over where does it go”

To that end, City Council agreed to set up as much of a local bylaw as they can to govern any future store.  

Councillors agreed that Pembroke's very unlikely position in the first round of the lottery will give them more time to look at setting up those rules.

And, although the province has taken control over the planning of the locations for such stores, LeMay is hopeful that the province will listen to the city's concerns and be receptive to any additional local rules that council suggests.

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Also on Tuesday night, the city's Manager of Planning, Colleen Sauriol, told council that a survey of more than 1,000 people over the last few weeks came back 84 per cent in favour of the city opting in.  

Sauriol said in addition to this, a survey of downtown business owners came back 70% in favour -- though half said they didn’t want a store on the downtown's main street.  

The province will announce this Friday who will get the first 25 licenses.

Communities had until January 22 to decide whether to "opt out" of the provincial lottery system.

Those who opted out could decide to opt in later, but wouldn't stand to gain as much tax revenue from the province related to the stores.

Pembroke's initial share for opting in will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $16,000, but city officials say that could increase.