Nicole Rubli

Cannabis meeting draws sparse crowd

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg held a public meeting on the issue of cannabis and the possibility of retail stores in town but not a lot of people came out to voice their views.

A crowd of about 15 people attended last Thursday night’s meeting in the Libro Centre’s downstairs community room, with some being incoming council members and members of administration. The presentation was run in collaboration with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Nicole Rubli, manager of licensing and enforcement with the town, said the legalization of cannabis “has kept us on our toes.” Rubli said she has been to five conferences on the matter with different information coming out of all five. Some regulations, she noted, were issued only hours before the public meeting.

“The municipality has had to look at a moving target,” she said.

Under the province’s Cannabis Control Act, it prohibits the sale of recreational cannabis to anyone under the age of 19, prohibits those under 19 to possess, cultivate, consume or share any amount of recreational cannabis and notes that adults can possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. Under the federal Cannabis Act, four cannabis plants per household may be grown.

The province has announced that consumption of cannabis may be done in the same places as tobacco with consumption prohibited in vehicles and boats. Retail shops have to be at least 150 metres from a school, according to provincial legislation.

Melissa Valentik from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit addresses the public at a meeting regarding cannabis held at the Libro Centre Nov. 15.

The town’s smoke-free bylaw prohibits smoking or vaping in all parks, recreational fields, playground areas, municipal trails and within nine metres of an entrance/exit to a municipal building.

Melissa Valentik, health promotion specialist with the health unit, outlined health issues surrounding recreational cannabis use, noting its addictive influence and potential health issues.

“Cannabis isn’t harmless because it’s a plant,” said Valentik, adding it has several carcinogens, toxins and irritants found in tobacco smoke.

Residents were encouraged to provide feedback, with licensing officer Andrea Pelaccia noting people can use the town’s “Talk the Burg” website found at www.talktheburg.ca. Rubli noted a report is going before council Dec. 10

Local resident Alison Baldwin didn’t believe the town gave enough notice for feedback. She believed it should have been put out to the public sooner, but Rubli said the town is on strict deadlines and that the legislation is coming at them fast and has been ever-changing. Del Oxford questioned use of online methods for feedback, believing it could hinder seniors from giving their views.

Rubli noted that concerns can also be written and mailed to town hall.

Luigi DiPierdomenico believed the town was doing a good job bringing information to the public as soon as it was received. He noted that the only cannabis store in the region was originally only going to be in Windsor.

Local resident and business owner John Pelletier believed opening cannabis retail shops in town could prove beneficial.

“I just see the opportunity of people coming to this town. It’s a small town, but we have a lot to offer,” he said. “Every municipality can gain some money if they open up retail shops.”

 

Will ATV’s be allowed along area roadways?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg took the first step in gathering feedback over the issue of allowing ATV’s along area roadways.

A public meeting was held last Tuesday night at the Libro Centre where operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) got a chance to give feedback towards the formation of regulations locally to allow ATV’s along rural roadways within Amherstburg. The meeting stemmed from council direction from the Sept. 24 regular meeting where the Essex County ATV Club asked to be able to use their vehicles on designated roads within the town.

Farmers, trappers and public works department officials are exempt from current restrictions, noted manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli.

Comments from the ATV users included a willingness to only use roadways to get from trail to trail, as paved roads damage their tires. There were some in attendance from Essex and Chatham-Kent to press the town to allow ATV’s to use local roadways, believing it would boost tourism as riders would now have access to Amherstburg roads. Others believed it would cut down on trespassing as ATV riders could use roads to get from point A to point B without tracking across fields.

Eric Chamberlain, the town’s manager of roads and fleet, noted the town has 186 kilometres of road, both urban and rural, and noted there are some roads with narrow shoulders and grassy areas.

The Town of Amherstburg held a public meeting regarding possible usage of ATV’s along area roadways. The meeting was held Oct. 30 at the Libro Centre.

“If the municipality passes a bylaw, it is only for our roads,” said Chamberlain. “You’d have to go to county (council) to get permission to use their right-of-ways.”

Acting Staff Sgt. Matt Capel-Cure said the Off-road Vehicle Act has nothing to do with operating on highways unless the highways are crossed. While there is nothing specific about riding single file, ATV riders are advised to stay as close to the right as possible.

Rubli said there is a survey posted on the town’s “Talk the Burg” website, found at www.talktheburg.ca, and the town is inviting the public to comment through there. There may be another public meeting if there is a draft bylaw created.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo noted that he and the deputy mayor have the authority to bring the issue to county council, should the public want the town to go that route. DiCarlo was at the meeting with Councillor/Deputy Mayor-elect Leo Meloche and Councillor-elect Donald McArthur.

Rubli said she aims to have a report before town council on the matter in the first quarter of 2019 with public feedback factored into that report.

Town gets update on pot legalization

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has directed administration to hold a public consultation session with regards to the community impact on the legalization of cannabis and administration will also bring back a report with information on the province’s one-time opt-out option to host private retail cannabis outlets.

Council members received an update Monday night from manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli, who stated that while a public meeting will be held this term of council, it will be the next term of council that will be making decisions on the matter.

However, there are still questions municipalities have of the Ontario government and there are also concerns with what constitutes a nuisance and how such nuisance complaints would be handled by the municipalities.

“There’s an anticipated impact as it relates to nuisances and odours. There will be some additional enforcement required, but a lot of it is public education,” said Rubli, adding the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will be of assistance as it relates to educating the public.

In a written report to council, Rubli noted that in April 2017, the federal government introduced Bill C-45, also known as The Cannabis Act, and Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

“These pieces of legislation plan to legalize, regulate and restrict access to recreational cannabis in Canada. The federal Bill C-45 is the overarching legislative framework that provides rules specifically to regulate the production, distribution, selling and possession of recreational cannabis. This Bill received royal assent in June 2018 and will come into force Oct. 17, 2018,” her report stated.

Rubli added that in December 2017, the Province of Ontario responded with corresponding legislation, the Cannabis Act, 2017 and the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, 2017 (OCRCA, 2017).

“This provincial legislation will provide the regulatory framework for the purchase and use of recreational cannabis in Ontario,” she stated.

The legislation will prohibit the sale of recreational cannabis to anyone under the age of 19, prohibit the use of recreational cannabis in all public places, workplaces and motor vehicles, prohibit youth (under 19) from possessing, cultivating, consuming and sharing any amount of recreational cannabis, address illegal selling, including storefront dispensaries, allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis and allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household.

“Concurrently, this legislation strengthens the penalties for supplying cannabis to under-aged youth and for impaired driving. However in August 2018, the provincial government confirmed their plans to introduce legislation to allow the private sector to retail recreational cannabis in Ontario by April 1, 2019. This will change the intent of the OCRCA, 2017 that was to establish a new Crown corporation, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) to sell cannabis and related products through a network of dedicated storefronts and an online channel,” Rubli’s report stated. “In the interim and as of Oct. 17, consumers 19 or older will be able to purchase recreational cannabis through an online retail platform operated by the Ontario Cannabis Store. The Minister of Finance also confirmed that municipalities will have  the ability for a one-time opting out of having a retail store in their communities.”

“This is going to be brand new for all us,” said Councillor Joan Courtney. “I hope the new council has fun with it.”

Courtney said she attended an Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference and the issue was raised that a definition of nuisance has not been clearly established. She was concerned that municipalities could face issues with enforcement and that it would present added workloads to bylaw enforcement officers.

“This is a political minefield that we’re getting into with this,” said Courtney.

CAO John Miceli shared much of Courtney’s concerns, saying “I don’t think we’re going to be on the winning end” of the issue. He agreed that additional resources may be required on the enforcement end.

“It’s going to be a big education (process) for residents and future councils,” he said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said no one has figured out the nuisance issue as of yet, including U.S. states that have legalized marijuana.

“It doesn’t seem any state has figured it out yet,” he said. “It’s going to be a process.”

Councillor Rick Fryer pointed out there could be WSIB issues with police and bylaw officers facing additional exposure to cannabis. However, he compared the issue with that of the gas tax in that money could flow back to municipalities.

“Get on the bandwagon,” said Fryer. “There is going to be a revenue stream heading back to municipalities.”

Councillor Leo Meloche noted there is the issue of proximity to other municipalities that has to be considered.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said municipalities are “in limbo” with regards to the matter and that more communication needs to come from the province.  More information is expected in October and that leaves municipalities a short time to decide to opt-in or not. Both he and Rubli noted municipalities can opt-out one time and then opt back in.

“To me, it should be called the opt-in clause,” he said. “If you do opt in, there’s no getting out.”

DiCarlo said he has heard from people interested in opening private shops and knows those people, as well as those opposed to such businesses, are anxious to see the next steps and noted there will be opportunities for public feedback.

Rubli, who is part of a town “task force” on the issue, also said she has heard from people interested in running retail stores or lounges.

“We want to ensure that we’re touching as many residents as we can to see what the town residents want and feel about cannabis storefronts,” she said.

 

Town council puts two-hour limit on downtown parking lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A two-hour parking limit is coming to the lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Town council voted to implement a parking limitation at that lot during Monday night’s meeting and to support the concept of a downtown parking study after the development of the Duffy’s property is complete.

The issue stemmed from an Oct. 23, 2017 request from Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry to have two dedicated spots in that lot. That request was denied but it sparked the investigation into options for that lot. The parking limitations would be Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Councillor Joan Courtney spoke against the two-hour limit, stating that it could deter people from eating out and enjoying the downtown area.

“Everything is two hours,” said Courtney. “I find that unreasonable.”

Courtney cited an example of a family eating at a restaurant and going for a walk in the summer with an ice cream only to have to keep checking their wristwatches in order that they don’t violate a two-hour parking limit.

“My wish will be no time limit from May until late August,” she said.

Two-hour parking is coming to the lot at the intersection of Ramsay St. and Richmond St.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town has dealt with complaints that people park in the lot downtown all day and said issues related to downtown parking in any municipality is a tough one.

“Finding the right mix of short-term versus long-term is something municipalities struggle with,” he said. “You will never make everyone happy.”

Galvin added he has seen four-hour parking limits on occasion, but “not that often.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he was fine with introducing a two-hour parking limit in the lot. He said there are spots available in a town-owned lot east of the Heritage Square lot.

“From the downtown core to Heritage Square, it’s not that much of a walk,” said Fryer.

Fryer believed the issue for downtown businesses is “convenience over what is available.” He added a major issue is people parking in public spots for days without moving their vehicles.

“How do we move cars that have been there for days upon days?” he asked. “I hope the bylaw is strong enough so we’ll be able to tow.”

Courtney questioned where downtown employees will park. Manager of licensing and enforcement said there was material sent to downtown businesses showing there were a lot of spots just out of the core area and suggested that strategy could be used again.

“A report to council on March 9, 2015, identified that a parking review was conducted for the downtown in the area of Rankin Avenue to Park Street, and Dalhousie Street to

Sandwich Street. Through this exercise, administration reviewed all town-owned parking lots within this area and completed an inventory of available parking spots. Further, administration reviewed and created an inventory of all on street parking within the identified area along with time limits where applicable,” Rubli stated in her written report. “In 2015, it was identified that the town has a total of 97 parking spots available for use in town-owned parking lots and approximately 373 on street parking spots within the identified area.”

 

Town officially launches marriage ceremonies

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Couples wishing to tie the knot can now do so at town hall.

The Town of Amherstburg has officially started offering civil marriage ceremonies with the first one being Jan. 3. Amherstburg residents Nicholas Grimaldi and Danielle Cribley became the first couple to be wed at town hall.

The officiant was Nicole Rubli, who is also the town’s manager of licensing and enforcement.

Amherstburg residents Nicholas Grimaldi and Danielle Cribley became the first couple to be wed at town hall. The officiant was Nicole Rubli (centre).
(Photo by Barry Evans)

Civil marriage ceremonies were approved by town council last October, with clerk Paula Parker and deputy clerk Tammy Fowkes also being authorized to become officiants.

Ceremonies are available during office hours – 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday – at the Amherstburg Municipal Building or in King’s Navy Yard Park.  Saturday services are offered upon availability.  There will be an additional fee for any ceremonies provided outside of regular hours, or in any location outside of town hall or the King’s Navy Yard Park.

The cost that was approved last October for marriage services was $250 plus HST, which Rubli said “is consistent with what other municipalities charge.” An additional $100 would be charged for having the ceremony outside of regular office hours. An additional $117 would also have to be paid by the couple for the marriage license.

If the couple involved opts to have an off-site ceremony, they would be responsible to pay for mileage at the Consumer Price Index rate.

The town has estimated that an additional $6,250 in revenue could be collected for ceremonies conducted during regular business hours

Ceremonies must be booked in-person at town hall during office hours.

Amherstburg has become the sixth municipality in the region to offer marriage services, joining Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington, Windsor and Kingsville.

For more information about civil marriage ceremonies, please visit www.amherstburg.ca or call licensing officer Helen Sweet at 519-736-0012 ext. 2219.