The District of Port Hardy is getting ready to “roll up” its cannabis advisory committee, as the group is in its final stages of planning.
One of their last meetings was held on Nov. 1, where they finalized a survey that, once approved by council, will be distributed out to the community for public input.
“If this draft survey is acceptable to everyone at the meeting today, we will put it forward to council and with council’s approval it will be submitted and we will get some feedback from the community members,” said committee chair/councillor Leighton Wishart.
The survey will seek public input on locations, buffer zones from schools and daycares, accessory uses, business hours, the permitting process, and many other factors.
It will also ask information about the respondent and their concerns. “We just wanted people to tell us who they are, where they come from, whether or not they are a resident, whether they are near the commercial zone, or if they are an owner of the business in or near the commercial zone,” said Heather Nelson-Smith, District of Port Hardy Director of Corporate Services.
The survey inquires about a respondent’s basic information like residency, age, and whether or not they think dispensaries should be permitted in the District of Port Hardy.
The draft survey included the answers “yes”, “no”, and “I don’t know”. The committee discussed whether or not they should include the option “I don’t know” on the survey.
“If they say ‘I don’t know’ what does that mean to us? That they don’t have an opinion on it?” asked Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick.
After deliberation, the committee decided to change the “I don’t know” option on the survey into a comment section so they could receive more detailed input.
The committee also looked at a provincial regulation discussion letter, written by Mike Franworth Minister of Public Safety, which sought stakeholder engagement and outlined the provincial government’s approach to legalization, including, “to focus on protecting young people, making health and safety a priority, keeping cannabis out of the hands of criminals and keeping roads safe”.
“I think that they know as much about it as we do at this point,” said Wishart.
Under the proposed Cannabis Act, provinces and territories will regulate the distribution and sale of non-medical cannabis within their respective jurisdictions, subject to minimum federal conditions.
Provinces will have the authority to increase the minimum legal age for purchase and possession, regulate public consumption, establish additional restrictions on personal cultivation and possessions limits, and address cannabis impaired driving.
The committee agreed to meet if the province makes an announcement regarding the specifics of provincial cannabis regulations.
The survey will be brought to council’s attention at their Nov.14 meeting, where they will have the options to either allow the committee to go forward with the survey, make changes or edits to the survey, or delay the survey.
The proposed date of closure for the survey is Jan. 31 and the committee plans to meet two weeks after that date.
“It will take me a bit of time to compile all of the info and then we can meet somewhere mid-February we can go over those results and finalize our feedback towards council,” said Nelson-Smith.
The federal governments’ Bill C-45 known as the Cannabis Act is currently making its way through the Federal Parliamentary process with the goal of bringing the Bill C-45 into force in July 2018 which would make non-medical cannabis legal in Canada as of that date.