The City of Penticton is serious about gathering public input on legalizing cannabis in Penticton — sort of.
The survey on developing the rules for retail sales and public use of cannabis is seriously meant to gather input from the public to help make recommendations for a city policy, but you can also look to see engagement staff out on the streets gathering input, attired in hot-off-the-presses T-shirts emblazoned with the project tagline “WEED like to hear from you,” and graphics making it clear what they’re talking about.
“The city is trying to have some fun and lighten it up to get more people involved,” said JoAnne Kleb, the city’s engagement strategist. “We are planning to be out and about this Friday on 4/20.”
The date, 4/20, has become internationally known as a day of celebrating cannabis culture.
Kleb credits creation of the tagline to the engagement team’s social media specialist, Milena Urbanovitch.
The survey, available online at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca and at city hall and the library runs from April 16 to May 4.
The survey is the first step in the engagement program. Residents will be asked to what extent they support the retail sale and public use of cannabis, where it is acceptable, and if there is support, how many stores should be allowed, how far apart should they be and what they should look like. Based on the results of the survey, staff will draft the appropriate bylaws and test them with the community in an open house and online later this summer.
“Those that are writing policy want to understand what people’s preferences are and what they want to see in their community,” said Kleb, adding that the data gathered will directly influence staff’s recommendation and inform council’s decision.
“I think that is the advantage of getting this kind of input early on. The recommendations that staff come up with should reflect the broader perspective of the community and people should feel fairly confident in the recommendations that come forward in that do represent a broad interest of residents,” said Kleb. “The goal of the survey is to look for those trends and themes, but there is always big different ideas that come forward and we are going to share those on the council.”
Registration at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca is required to complete the survey to ensure participants are from Penticton and make only one submission. Residents who complete the survey will be entered into a draw for two prizes of up to $300 each towards a June 2018 utility bill on an active residential account.
Kleb said this isn’t the first time the city has tried offering a prize for participation.
“We experimented with it on the 2018 utility rate review feedback form,” said Kleb. “It actually generated a quite positive response, so I wanted to see how it would work on this one.”
The city has also launched a new project page on shapeyourcitypenticton.ca to be a central resource for information on the legalization of cannabis in Penticton and opportunities to get involved. The city is hosting a forum for discussion on the page as well as links to key documents and information.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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