As cannabis legalization nears, the City of Parksville wants to hear from residents. File photo

Parksville prohibits pot — for now

Bylaw amendments give city time to set up legal cannabis regime

The City of Parksville took its first step toward regulating the distribution and sale of non-medicinal cannabis — by prohibiting it.

Council voted following a public hearing Monday, May 7, to direct staff to draft a zoning and development amendment bylaw that would temporarily prohibit non-medical cannabis related activities in the city.

“This would give the city time to design a regulatory framework and recommendations to staff to create a tailored bylaw regime,” said Keeva Kehler, director of administrative services.

“Tonight’s hearing is to temporarily prohibit under the zoning bylaw until we come back to council with recommendations for their consideration.”

Kehler said the city will be reviewing results of a recent public engagement survey and is awaiting the announcement of a licencing program by the provincial government, but “we expect to bring our recommendations by June or July.”

In its unanimous vote, council received the Jan. 12 report prepared by Kehler, and directed staff to amend the following bylaws to prohibit cannabis-related activiy in the city:

• Business licence bylaw 2012, No. 1483;

• Zoning and development bylaw, 1994, No. 2000;

• Nuisance abatement bylaw, 2013, No. 1489; and

• Plan Parksville: A vision for our future, Official Community Plan Bylaw, 2013, No. 1492.

Currently, the broad definition of retail trade in the city would permit cannabis sales in many locations, according to Kehler’s report. In addition, the licencing bylaw contains no specific operating requirements for cannabis stores or home-based operations, there are no special inspections required by the building or fire departments for either retail or production locations; there are no provisions to address potential nuisance factors with cannabis sales, growing or consumption; and there are no policy statements in the city’s OCP pertaining to cannabis or permit provisions for stores or production facilities.

“We, as a council, do not support the illegal activity of non-medicinal marijuana,” Coun. Kirk Oates said. “That’s why we don’t want shops setting up. Once (federal legalization) happens, these temporary measures shouldn’t be considered the position of the city.”

The only residents to speak at the public hearing were a Parksville couple who gave their names only as Maureen and Simon.

“In the process of looking at the prospect of opening a cannabis retail store, what we’ve read is a little confusing,” said Maureen. “We’re not sure where this is all sitting now.”

Mayor Marc Lefebvre answered that the city is awaiting final legalization of recreational cannabis by the federal goverment, as well as additional regulatory details from all levels of senior government.

“Based on what we heard at the AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities) conference last month, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before August, and maybe not September.

“When that happens, we’ll be ready with a bylaw, whether you want to sell recreational or medical cannabis.”

Send story tips to: editor@pqbnews.com

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