Where would you like your friendly neighbourhood cannabis store? The Electoral Area Directors for all CSRD areas (A,B,C,D,E and F) got together on June 7th, and one of the topics was a cannabis policy, regulating areas where retail and production facilities might locate.
Regulating the location of cannabis retail and production facilities is a good thing. There are a number of public comfort issues such as smell and distance from minors that should be seriously considered. The CSRD staff has come up with a draft policy that is mainly borrowed from other jurisdictions, but unfortunately does not work to our benefit.
Retail cannabis sales are required to be in a Commercial zone and no less than 300m from daycares, health centres, libraries, parks & playgrounds. This is a good idea, and in a perfect world would be fine. In reality, in a small community it’s difficult to find a commercial location with all these assets.
Cannabis production is limited to Industrial zoned property, not on ALR land, and with the same distance regulations as retail locations. How many Industrial zoned properties are in the North Shuswap? On the CSRD zoning map I can see three, only one large enough to satisfy the setback requirements, and it already has a thriving business on it. Why is ALR land excluded? At the coast maybe, but there is no good reason for this in the North Shuswap.
So in effect, with this policy, there is nowhere in our area that this new business opportunity can happen. The CSRD staff has barely consulted the public (they requested responses to an ad), nor has our Area Director made any public comments on this policy with it’s lack of understanding of local conditions. And yes, you can go to the board and request a rezoning or relaxing of the rules as long as you have time, energy, money and start out with a ‘really positive attitude’.
Just for the record, I’m not saying that I’m for or against cannabis sales or production in our area, but it will soon be legal and we do need to plan for it. What I’m in favour of are new legal businesses in the North Shuswap. What I’m not in favour of is the CSRD implementing restrictive policies that negatively affect our area. This policy effectively shuts us out of a growing business opportunity.
Update: July 19 – I’ve had some feedback that people are thinking that I’m in favour of Pot dispensaries or growing. That isn’t the case, I really don’t care. It’s like alcohol and should be treated like it. What I’m in favour of is allowing business opportunities for the North Shuswap without rules and regulations getting in the way.