Another cannabis shop may have an opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar store in town.
Port Hardy council voted in favour to have a recent cannabis application moved forward to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) in last Dec. 11 meeting.
Before going to Port Hardy council, cannabis companies looking to do retail sales will have to go through B.C.’s LCRB for approval. The application will then return to council for them to decide whether or not to issue a business licence for cannabis retailers.
“When the district has to review it, they must make a recommendation as to ‘no’ or a recommendation as to ‘yes’,” Director of Corporate Services, Heather Nelson-Smith, said.
“The District of Port Hardy has actually permitted cannabis sales to happen in our zones,” she noted, having already said that other municipalities may not have done the legwork in anticipation to cannabis legalization last October.
After a public hearing in June, council decided to regulate cannabis sales to zones C-1 (General Commercial), C-2 (Service Commercial), C-3 (Town Centre Commercial), M-1 (Marine Commercial), CD-5 (Comprehensive Development), and CD-7. The district also put buffer zones in place, which limits cannabis businesses from operating at least 100 metres from a playground or library, 150 metres from education services, and 150 metres from daycares.
As for why cannabis may be allowed to be sold in, say, a town centre commercial zone, Nelson-Smith said that “liquor is permitted as a primary use in all of those zones.”
“Council felt … that if liquor was permitted as a principal use,” she added, “then cannabis can also be permitted as a principal use. This particular application is in the C-3 zone,” Nelson-Smith said in reference to Pacificanna Holdings Ltd., a Victoria-based cannabis company that put in an application to open on Market Street.
“Going forward, (LCRB) does require that the local government do consultation with the residents that would be affected,” she said, “on this particular one, because it is located in the downtown and it’s unknown as to how many residences actually are in any of the rental units. We posted a notice.”
The notice was up for 16 days which allowed for public comments from Port Hardy residents who may be affected.
“We actually did receive a petition and an anonymous letter,” she said. “I had to verify whether or not any of them were residents of the area. The businesses are not classified as residents. It has to be people who live in the area.”
A petition requires a full name and a full Port Hardy street address in order to be considered valid.
Locals raised concerns in the petition which centred around the possibility of vape lounges, loitering around the cannabis retailer, and consumption of cannabis outside the store. Currently, the district enforces a smoking regulation bylaw which requires individuals to smoke (tobacco or cannabis) at least six metres away from a service area.
Nelson-Smith pointed out that the petition will be “forwarded to the (LCRB) so that they are aware.”
The district also plans to notify the LCRB that there may be signatures found on the petition which may not qualify.
A few other concerns raised related to the definitions set out within the town’s cannabis regulations. Since no changes were made to the cannabis regulations prior, any future changes to the bylaw will not take effect on this application.
Nelson-Smith also pointed out that the “RCMP, as part of our policy, was also consulted on this. They have no outward concerns on this application.”
Pacificanna will now have to wait on LCRB’s approval before going back to Port Hardy Mayor and Council for a business licence application.