Manitoba town votes to allow cannabis stores to set up shop
WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba town has voted to permit cannabis stores to set up shop within town limits.
On Oct. 14, a plebiscite was held in Altona, Man., asking residents ‘should licenced retail cannabis stores be allowed in Altona?’
In total, 1,155 voters cast their ballots, including through advanced polls on Oct. 8, mail-in ballots, and mobile polling stations. Of these 1,155 voters, 692 voted to allow retail cannabis stores, and 463 voted against it,
Al Friesen, mayor of Altona, said to CTV News on Thursday that he believed the town council presented a reasonable argument for the business to be in the community.
“Those in town councils, community councils, they’re required to make decisions, and they’re not always well-received, or potentially not well-received, but ultimately these decisions are made with the best interests of the community at heart, both now and long-term,” he said.
Friesen said town council focused on the education of cannabis to inform the community before the vote.
“I think most people felt this was a legal business, just like tobacco and alcohol and lottery tickets, and who are we to say that business should not operate here? We felt it was pro-business, pro-jobs and it was the right thing to do, and ultimately, people, when presented with the facts, lined up with us as well,” he said.
Friesen said the town focused on the safety and regulation of cannabis when presenting its case to residents. An online town hall with local police was also held leading to the plebiscite.
The town called a plebiscite after community members presented a petition calling for one. The vote was originally scheduled for May but pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Altona was one of seven rural communities the Manitoba government approved to have a retail cannabis store.
The government chose Alberta-based company Westleaf to open a retail cannabis store in Altona, but it backed out back in January. Another retailer will now be chosen.
- With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Josh Crabb.