• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion mother upset with plans to open pot store


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Marie Claude Gauthier, Vaudreuil-Dorion Division Manager for Permits and Inspections, points to possible locations outlined in red for a retail cannabis store during a public consultation meeting at city hall on September 5.

Alexandra Massa, a mother of two adolescent boys, is disappointed the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion is moving ahead with its plans to open a marijuana store. Mayor Guy Pilon said the municipality is obliged to follow through on a request made by the recently created Société Québécoise de Cannabis (SQDC) that wants to open a store in the city.

Massa raised her concerns about the possible negative consequences the outlet could have in the community during a public consultation meeting at city hall on Tuesday evening, September 4.

Negative image

“The SQDC knocks on our door and we’re just going to let them decide where they’re going to place it and assume they know what to do. We should be on the forefront of protecting our youth,” Massa told The Journal after the meeting. “Vaudreuil-Dorion is going to be the place to go for pot. This is going to be our image now.”

Pilon said he and all eight municipal councillors oppose having a cannabis store but are obliged to follow through because the SQDC specifically requested they want to have an outlet in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Despite their opposition, council realized it would be better to work with the SQDC to find a suitable site rather than have the location imposed by the government organization. The SQDC is a subsidiary of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and will exclusively manage the estimated 150 retail cannabis outlets it plans to have across the province by 2020.

Possible locations

“They came to us. They didn’t want to be in a shopping centre and wanted to be seen. They said they prefer to talk to the towns to make sure they don’t make mistakes and put it near schools. ‘If you have other objections, now is the time to say it’ we were told,” said Pilon.

The exact location hasn’t been determined, but urban planners have earmarked possible sites along Boulevard de la Gare, Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes and a portion of Avenue St. Charles. “We know where the schools, daycares, and kindergartens are. We don’t want the store to be located less than 250 meters from these places,” said Pilon.

Mayor not pleased

The mayor is adamant in his displeasure with the federal government for legalizing cannabis. “It’s the worst s**t that could happen. It’s a matter of politics with the upcoming elections and to get some money. It will not prevent the illegal sale of marijuana. I’m very sure of that. Anybody with up to 30 grams in their pocket can sell to anyone and the police won’t be able to do anything,” said Pilon.

“The provincial government is doing the best it can to work within the scope of the new law. Now we’re trying to do the best we can on a municipal level,” Pilon added.

Sending a bad message

Massa is also concerned about what will happen when cannabis becomes legal on October 17. “The government of Quebec and the federal government especially have shoved it into the municipality’s hands to determine how it’s going to play out. And here we have a city that has one of the highest populations of youths. What kind of message are we sending?” asked Massa.

“Why are we so gung-ho? Why is this happening so quickly? Why can’t we let other cities test this out first? It seems so contrary to the image we’re trying to project,” added Massa. “We’re a healthy city. We’ve got bike paths. We’re promoting youth. There seems to be a big disconnect between this imminent opening of what is essentially a drug store and the healthy lifestyle we promote. I think it sends a really bad message.”

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