Main Street restriction holds up in Penticton cannabis legislation

Council approved the city's retail cannabis policy at this week's council meeting, which is now headed to a public hearing on Dec. 18, 2018.
Council approved the city's retail cannabis policy at this week's council meeting, which is now headed to a public hearing on Dec. 18, 2018.
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

PENTICTON - Penticton’s new retail cannabis policy moved a step closer to reality this week as council gave its approval to a number of recommendations related to the policy and associated bylaws.

Council also reluctantly agreed to let a restriction on cannabis retail shops on several blocks of Main Street stand after further wrangling on the issue at its Tuesday, Dec. 4, regular meeting of council.

City planning manager Blake Laven said the city’s four phase strategy to engage residents and develop the cannabis legislative framework had found “general support” over the past 10 months since the process began.

City staff had four recommendations to present to council, including approval of the cannabis retail stores policy, zoning amendments to define cannabis retail stores and include their use in the C4, C5, and C6 zones, a business licence amendment to define cannabis retail stores and regulate their operation, and a smoking regulation that would prohibit the smoking or vaping of cannabis in all Penticton public areas.

Council wrestled once more with the main issue of contention with respect to cannabis retail stores policy, that being the prohibition of stores on the city’s downtown Main Street.

Laven said the “high retail level” of Main Street, its proximity to a number of youthful concerns and the potential detraction of a retail cannabis shop due to the restrictive nature of the shop’s storefront were the main reasons for staff continuing to insist cannabis retail outlets be kept off the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of Main Street, as well as Front Street.

He said it would be much easier to relax the bylaw if necessary in the future than it would be to add a restriction.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield stated his continued opposition to restricting cannabis retail on Main Street believing residents were more concerned about where cannabis use was taking place than where it was purchased, but Coun. Katie Robinson agreed with staff and said, “there’s no downside to proceeding cautiously.”

Council approved all four staff recommendations. Next steps include a Dec. 18 public hearing, followed by provincial sign off on the bylaw prior to adoption by council. Staff will also be introducing a fees and charges schedule prior to beginning the referral process.

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