Town council has given first reading to a bylaw that will drastically limit the locations available for cannabis retail stores in the community and has set a public hearing for May 14.

The bylaw restricts where cannabis can be sold and the parameters set in the bylaw draft limits the options to a few locations in downtown Cochrane.

The bylaw proposes a 150-metre setback from any playground, child care service, hospital, emergency medical facility or school. That currently keeps the stores out of Cochrane neighbourhoods and even limits acceptable downtown locations. The setback represents approximately one block separation in Cochrane's main retail core and a map shown to council implies there are only two spots they could be situated there. It also matches the separation distance currently used for "Horticultural Use, Medical Cannabis."

The bylaw restricts signage to two identical signs that simply identify the business name, nature of the business and address. Because of the soon-to-be past criminal nature of cannabis sales, well-lit and visible parking and access will be required to help protect the stores of customers from being targeted.

Still, there's a wide range of commercial zones that will be available for the retail stores should they meet the distance restriction in future developments. It's being added as permissible use in C, CB, DH, C-SC and C-S zonings and to C-HMU and C-R as discretionary uses.

In his presentation to council, planner Adam Norquist explained 55 per cent of Canadians are expected to purchase their recreational cannabis from retailers.

In addition to the land-use bylaw, the town will soon be addressing changes to its smoking bylaw.

On Mar. 6, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)  began accepting retail cannabis license applications in anticipation of cannabis being legalized late this summer.

Just today, the Alberta Government announced OnX Enterprise Solutions will be developing the online cannabis sales platform to be operated by the AGLC.

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