The City is reviewing legislation that will put an interim ban on Cannabis distribution and sale until Bill C-45 becomes law late this summer. The bylaw currently being reviewed by City Council will give them time to put zoning regulations in place to regulate cannabis retail outlets. (file photo)

Council supports interim prohibition of sale and distribution of cannabis

Zoning bylaw no. 2224 would put a ban on Cannabis distribution and sale prior to C-45 becoming law this summer

If you were planning on opening up a pot shop in Revelstoke, it’ll likely be some time before your dream is a reality.

The City of Revelstoke is reviewing legislation that will formally prohibit the sale and distribution of cannabis, just three weeks after Bill C-45 (which will legalize recreational consumption, distribution and sale of marijuana across Canada) passed its second reading in the Senate.

Zoning bylaw no. 2224, which received the support of City Council on April 10, would put a ban on cannabis distribution and sale prior to C-45 becoming law this summer.

The intention of the bylaw is to prepare for impending legalization by putting in place legislation that will regulate where and how many cannabis retail are allowed to open in Revelstoke.

RELATED: Province releases policy guidelines for cannabis retail outlets

As it currently stands, there are no zoning regulations to regulate cannabis retail outlets within city limits.

In a report to Council dated April 10, Mary Wong, Assistant Planner, development services at the City of Revelstoke, wrote that if a zoning bylaw is not put in place then cannabis retail outlets would be able to open in any retail zone following federal legalization.

According to Wong, the bylaw will also give City Staff the time to conduct public consultation and prepare policies for council to consider and adopt.

Those policies would regulate things like how far away from a school a cannabis retail outlet would have to be, what the hours of operations would be, and how far one cannabis retail outlet would have to be from another.

If bylaw no.2224 passes its second and third reading in council chambers, then zoning applications for cannabis related uses would not be accepted until the City implements a full “regulatory framework.”

What that regulatory framework will look like, has yet to be determined, according to Director of Development Services Nigel Whitehead.

Whitehead said that the City is still awaiting word from the province and to hear from the public before formally crafting its cannabis policy.

He also said that there will likely be a gap between the time that C-45 formally becomes law and cannabis retail outlets are allowed to open in Revelstoke.

That means it is unlikely that there will be pot sold legally in Revelstoke upon federal legalization.

“It’s kind of hazy right now as far as when the government will formally legalize,” said Whitehead. “I would be inclined to say that there will very likely be a gap.”

As far as how many cannabis retail outlets will be allowed to open in Revelstoke, Whitehead said there will very likely be a moratorium placed on how many cannabis dispensaries can open up shop. He also said that decision will be made based on the outcome of a public consultation process.

“There will definitely be a limit,” said Whitehead. “What that limit will be will come out of a public consultation process and depend on what is palatable to the business community, as well as the community as a whole, and will arise out of our public consultation process.”

A public hearing on the bylaw will be tentatively scheduled for this May, and the City will begin to conduct a public consultation process in the future.

Whitehead said he envisions that process being contracted out.

“Our department currently does not have the resources to jump into a public engagement process of that nature,” said Whitehead in council chambers.

The bylaw will require approval prior to adoption from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure as it may affect properties within 800 meters of intersections of Controlled Access Highways.

City Staff have been working on the bylaw amendment since at least Feb. 5, when the province made its formal announcement on how pot will be sold across the province.

Other municipalities such as the City of Surrey and District of Tofino have put similar interim prohibitions on cannabis in preparation for legalization.

The City will be hosting the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention near the end of April and one of the breakout sessions will be on marijuana regulation.

Bill C-45 was passed by the federal government in the House of Commons in Nov. 2017.

The clean air bylaw, which passed its third reading on March 27, will prohibit the smoking of Cannabis in public parks.

RELATED: Revelstoke parks and trails to get a breath of fresh air

“Without having seen what has come from the province, and the federal government, this is just a preparatory step,” said Whitehead.

@Jnsherman
jake.sherman@revelstokereview.com

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