City council set to discuss impact of cannabis legalization, possible new car dealership

The report is based on data collected before cannabis was legalized last October, suggesting the information is a baseline for further research involving youth drug use. (File)

Regina city council is set to hear more about a report by city administration on the impacts of cannabis legislation in the city at its meeting Wednesday.

During the legalization process, city council requested a report on the impact of cannabis. The report will update councillors on the impact retail stores are having on the black market, the impact of legalization on the economy and how the cannabis zoning regulations are working.

According to the report, the city needs to host roughly 24 cannabis stores to ensure a healthy business environment to disrupt the black market. The report said restrictions around opening new stores is a barrier that prevents consumers from accessing legal cannabis.

There are currently 11 licensed stores in Regina, as well as 11 approved development permits from the city – which are awaiting final approval from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. Four additional development permits are under review by the city. The report said zoning rules left potential store owners frustrated with the limited options, so potential amendments to the zoning bylaw will be explored at a later time.

The report also found total cannabis sales in Saskatchewan almost doubled to approximately $70 million in 2019-20.

Final numbers for the 2020-21 year were not available at the time of writing, but the provincial government reported sales of $91.8 million from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. The six per cent PST from cannabis sales is not tracked, but through the excise tax, the government received $1.8 million in 2018-19, $7.6 million in 2019-20, and the estimate for 2020-21 is $13.5 million.

According to a Statistics Canada study on cannabis use released in April, one in five Canadians – or 20 per cent – reported having used cannabis in the past three months. That is higher than the 14 per cent who reported cannabis use before legalization and the 18 per cent who reported use in the first few months after legalization.

Saskatchewan has a lower than average use compared to the rest of Canada with just 13.9 per cent.

The study showed the black market has been impacted significantly by legalization. About 68 per cent of consumers reported getting at least some of their cannabis from a legal source in 2020. In 2018, the rate was 23 per cent, and 47 per cent just after legalization.

According to a Statistics Canada's study on police-reported crime statistics in 2019, there has been a rise in drug-impaired driving rates across the country, though the majority of impaired driving incidents continue to predominantly involve alcohol. The report said Regina police noted an increase in impaired operation by drugs, with 15 offences in 2019 and 52 offences in 2020. However, only some of the incidents involved cannabis, the majority of involved other drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

POTENTIAL CAR DEALERSHIP AT FORMER COSTCO SITE

Regina’s planning commission is recommending city council approve the redevelopment the former Costco Wholesale site into a car dealership for Regina Auto Gallery.

According to the council agenda, the property and building at 665 University Park Drive is still vacant.

The proposed dealership is 15,410 square metres in size, which includes 11,010 square metres of indoor retail space and 4,400 square metres of outdoor retail space. No plans have been made to make additions to the existing building.

The planning commission recommends unless otherwise specified in the approval, the development should comply with all applicable standards and regulations in the Regina zoning bylaw.