Alix Council has already made an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw which adds definitions relating to cannabis.
The next step they must determine is what types of regulations council wants to put in place.
After much talk around the table, council agreed to let the people have a chance to voice their concerns or support in a constructive and civil manner by holding a referendum by ballot regarding retail sales of the plant-based drug.
Both sides of the argument were concerned about ridicule from the other so this option of a referendum was a reasonable way to express their opinion without being concerned for backlash.
“Like I said, I have talked to people on both sides and the only thing that was in agreement was ‘We want a referendum, we want to be able to vote on this’,” said Coun. Ed Cole.
The results of this ballot will be used to give council an indication as to what direction they should lean towards when deciding on cannabis regulations within the village and what level of compliance they wish to follow with upcoming legalization on October 17.
Residents that wish to have a voice will ‘vote on a question by ballot under proper election rules on a question of cannabis retail sales in our community’ as the motion outlined.
“I just like the idea, that for me anyway, that the people can at least say they had a voice in it and it’s not your garden variety type of bylaw – this is a hot button issue that people are very passionate about on both sides,” said Mayor Rob Fehr.
No date has been set for the vote at press time.
ATCO Franchise Agreement
What many refer to as a ‘hidden tax grab’, Alix’s Franchise Fee Agreement with ATCO has come to council for decision making.
ATCO’s franchise fee for Alix is solely based on natural gas use and associated delivery rates for the community.
Two rate changes were made earlier this year in March and April which in turn decreased the overall delivery rates that the community is paying for.
The ATCO Gas franchise fee is currently at 20 per cent and property taxes are included in the amount collected.
They must be taken out of the payments prior to the property tax due date.
Council had the option to continue to collect franchise fees and property taxes or to collect property taxes separate from franchise fees.
Administration recommended the latter option as it provides residents with a more transparent look at their electric bill as many may not be aware that approximately 4.5 per cent of the franchise fee amount on their bill goes toward ATCO’s annual tax bill payable to the village.
Council tabled the agreement to budget time deliberations as it is not a pressing issue for administration to tackle.
A full review of these percentages will be conducted to make an informed decision.
Land Use Bylaw Amendment
Alix council allowed for a public hearing on Wed. Aug. 15 prior to the regular council meeting to discuss amendments to proposed Land Use Bylaw 435/18.
The changes to this bylaw were put in motion by recent changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and primarily dealt with how a development permit is handled and what timeframes are set for processing such permits.
Other changes were made to the subdivision application process again to handle timeframes and processing.
Any time there is an amendment to a land use bylaw, the MGA requires a public hearing.
In the end, no written or verbal submissions were received.
Council later passed second and third readings of the bylaw during the regular council meeting.