HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Port Hardy held two public hearings to seek public input on cannabis zoning regulations on June 20.

Port Hardy takes next step towards legal cannabis sales

Two public hearings were held to seek input on cannabis zoning bylaw

The District of Port Hardy sought public input on the future of cannabis retail in Port Hardy during two public hearings held at the district chambers.

The district intends to amend Zoning Bylaw 1010-2013 to allow for the inclusion of Cannabis Retail sales and held the required public hearings on June 20 at 1:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m.

Although the district received no written statements regarding the bylaw, half a dozen people attended each meeting with only a few choosing to state their opinion and ask questions regarding the changes.

Director of Corporate Service Heather Nelson-Smith also spoke at the beginning of each hearing to explain the purpose, intent, and process associated with the bylaw.

She explained that local governments have a selectability underneath the province as to what they can do, but can: adjust zoning, create retail definitions, set guidelines on business licensing, and can enforce building codes. The District’s Cannabis Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1080-2018 will add new definitions of “cannabis”, “cannabis retailer”, and “urban agriculture”, which was updated to exclude the cultivation and sale of cannabis.

It also sets restrictions such as buffer zones that have to be at least 100 metres from a playground or public library; at least 150 metres from any education services, and at least 150 metres away from any daycare.

Nelson-Smith also stated what they know so far from the Province:

-Applications are going to be processed through the Liquor Control and Licensing B (LCBC) similarly to liquor licensing.

– Background checks will be required

– Local government support will be required via resolution from council

– LCBC will not be licensing consumption lounges

– cannabis sales will only be permitted where its licensed and not offsite

– Minors under the age of 19 will not be permitted in cannabis retail stores

– No delivery or online dales of cannabis

– Business hours will be 9 a.m. to 11 9.m. (like liquor)

– Special training and employee background checks are still being created

– No off-site storage permitted.

Nelson-Smith also explained what that means for the district stating that current retail zoning doesn’t prohibit cannabis and if they did nothing cannabis would fall within the definition of retail so “we have to create the definition so it has its own place within our zoning regulation.”

Port Hardy resident Serena Neumerschitsky asked whether or not council would be approving businesses licenses before or after the Oct. 17 legalization date.

“It depends on when the province does their stuff,” said Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood, adding “anyone interested in opening a store … the staff will be as helpful as they can be to guide you through the process”

Nelson-Smith explained that they are waiting on a cannabis business licensing bylaw until they get finalization from the province.

“Most likely we won’t be approving them until after the legalization actually happens because we won’t be able to legally permit them,” said Nelson-Smith, adding, “However, there might be something that comes out from the province that says differently.”

Zoning amendment Bylaw No.1080-218 will now be considered for second and third reading and then adoption at a Port Hardy council meeting in the future.

Keep following the Gazette as the bylaw moves toward becoming law.

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