Blackfalds amends Land Use Bylaw, now accepting cannabis permit applications

Cannabis retail businesses, such as High Tide's Canna Cabana which is planned to open on 50 St. in downtown Lacombe, now have the opportunity to apply for development permits within the Town of Blackfalds. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Cannabis retailers, producers and distributors can now begin the the process of applying to have stores and facilities within the Town of Blackfalds.

Town council unanimously approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) on Tuesday in order to make accommodations for cannabis businesses – and effectively ended the moratorium on development permits imposed in June.

Changes were originally slated to occur alongside a full LUB update next year, with approval expected in April. Last month, however, the decision was made to advance making changes following three to five interested parties coming forward and expressing interest.

“We wanted to make sure the community would be open for any business that wishes to come in and establish a business within our community,” said Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole. The move now allows Blackfalds to be on a level playing field with surrounding municipalities in attracting such businesses to the town.

Under the now-approved amended LUB, cannabis production, processing and retail sales will be prohibited from all residential zones. Retail stores will be discretionary use in the Central and Highway Commercial Districts along Hwy 2A, meaning approvals must be given by Municipal Planning Committee. Stores will also be required to maintain a 100-metre setback from other cannabis stores, as well as health care facilities and schools, with the exception of home school locations and daycare uses.

As per provincial regulations, cannabis retail stores will only be allowed to operate from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m.

Cannabis production and distribution, meanwhile, be permitted as discretionary use in the industrial districts.

Cannabis businesses will also be required to adhere to requirements set out by the federal and provincial governments.

The changes to the LUB wrap up several months of work by town council, administration and the Cannabis Advisory Committee in order to deal with cannabis legalization which became official on Oct. 17.

“I don’t think the federal government nor the provincial government did a good job in providing feedback or process for us to follow. As a result, every municipality across Alberta had to form their own committees, do their own thing and it’s been a lot of work,” said Poole.

“We’re finally going to be able to move on and this won’t be taking up council’s time again.”

While development permits for cannabis businesses are now open, however, it could be some time before any are truly open for business.

Last month the Alberta, Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Commission said new cannabis retail licences would be issued, and implemented a temporary ban on new applications thanks to a Canada-wide supply shortage.

At least three businesses were hoping to open in Lacombe, including Canna Cabana, MJayz, and Fuzzy Buds, all located within a minute or two walking distance of each other on 50 St. and 50 Ave.

The closest AGLC licensed shops are Fire and Flower Cannabis Company in Stettler, and Green Town in Red Deer.