Vancouver Sun

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties weigh­ing how they’ll re­spond to B.C.’s cannabis re­tail plan

- JEN­NIFER SALT­MAN jen­salt­man@post­media.com Marijuana · Retail · Canada News · Marijuana Legalization · Narcotic Drugs · Society · Industries · British Columbia · Vancouver · North Vancouver · Burnaby · Richmond · New Westminster · Liquor Distribution Branch · North Vancouver · Burnaby · Malcolm Brodie · Port Coquitlam · Surrey · Richard Walton

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across Metro Van­cou­ver are con­sid­er­ing their op­tions when it comes to al­low­ing le­gal cannabis re­tail­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties, fol­low­ing the re­lease of new pro­vin­cial pol­icy around li­cens­ing.

This week, the B.C. gov­ern­ment said that un­der its pro­posed frame­work for the re­tail sales of non-med­i­cal cannabis, res­i­dents aged 19 and older will be able to buy cannabis through pri­vately run or gov­ern­ment-op­er­ated re­tail stores and on­line through the gov­ern­ment once it is le­gal­ized in July.

The Liquor Dis­tri­bu­tion Branch will op­er­ate pub­lic re­tail stores and the Liquor Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Branch will li­cense and mon­i­tor pri­vate stores.

“I thought the leg­is­la­tion was ac­tu­ally quite good when it came out,” said District of North Van­cou­ver Mayor Richard Wal­ton. “The pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions seemed to be right in line with what we thought they should be.”

The rules give mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties a mea­sure of con­trol over sales in their com­mu­ni­ties, stip­u­lat­ing that lo­cal gov­ern­ments can de­cide whether they want a non-med­i­cal cannabis re­tail store — pub­lic or pri­vate — in their com­mu­nity.

“We’re glad to see that we have some role to play there,” said City of North Van­cou­ver Mayor Dar­rell Mus­satto.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Metro Van­cou­ver have taken a va­ri­ety of ap­proaches to re­tail mar­i­juana sales, from re­fer­ring the mat­ter to staff and form­ing com­mit­tees, to com­ing up with their own frame­works be­fore the an­nounce­ment.

Dan Layng, chief li­cence in­spec­tor for the City of Burn­aby, said the city has struck a com­mit­tee.

The three North Shore mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are among the many that have re­ferred the mat­ter to staff for fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion.

Rich­mond has taken a sim­i­lar tack, de­spite hav­ing writ­ten a let­ter to the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments in Oc­to­ber op­pos­ing le­gal­iza­tion al­to­gether.

“We are in the process of hav­ing staff an­a­lyze the sit­u­a­tion,” said Mayor Mal­colm Brodie. “We’ll be com­ing for­ward in the weeks to come to talk about what kind of reg­u­la­tion we want around re­tail sale.”

How­ever, he said Rich­mond wants to main­tain zon­ing con­trol and he en­vi­sions some­thing sim­i­lar to the reg­u­la­tions around pub­lic and pri­vate liquor stores, which place lim­its on fac­tors such as where they can be lo­cated.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said New West­min­ster seeks to reg­u­late cannabis re­tail­ers with a frame­work sim­i­lar to that used for pri­vate liquor stores in the city, though coun­cil and staff are still iron­ing out de­tails.

Cote said the city an­tic­i­pates hav­ing its frame­work im­ple­mented in early fall, but no re­tail out­lets will be al­lowed to open be­fore then, even if fed­eral le­gal­iza­tion comes in July as ex­pected.

Last month, White Rock coun­cil adopted a zon­ing by­law amend­ment that es­sen­tially pre­vents cannabis re­tail­ers from set­ting up shop be­fore the prov­ince has pro­vided more de­tails about its ap­proach.

Port Co­quit­lam is tak­ing a sim­i­lar wait-and-see ap­proach and plan­ning to re­visit its cur­rent re­stric­tions af­ter new fed­eral and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion is in place. There is no time­line for this process.

At least two cities — Van­cou­ver and Sur­rey — have al­ready come up with poli­cies.

For al­most three years, Van­cou­ver has been work­ing to li­cense qual­i­fied mar­i­juana-re­lated busi­nesses and take en­force­ment ac­tion against and close those that are op­er­at­ing with­out li­cences.

Though about 20 busi­nesses have re­ceived Van­cou­ver’s stamp of ap­proval and li­cences, they will not re­ceive pref­er­en­tial treat­ment and will have to ap­ply to the prov­ince for li­cens­ing along with new busi­nesses.

Sur­rey plans to spend the next few months im­ple­ment­ing its new frame­work, which in­cludes check­lists for zon­ing and land-use by­laws and reg­u­la­tions, in­spec­tion and en­force­ment, rev­enue and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic en­gage­ment.

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