Regional board takes first steps to legislate retail cannabis sales | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Regional board takes first steps to legislate retail cannabis sales

FILE PHOTO- The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen began discussions on the regulation of retail cannabis sales in the district during a committee meeting this morning, Aug. 16, 2018.
August 16, 2018 - 4:58 PM

PENTICTON - Regional district directors stepped tentatively into the legislative waters of retail cannabis sales at a morning committee meeting today.

A staff recommendation to limit retail zones in which cannabis sales are a permitted use was turned down the the board’s Protective Services Committee meeting today, Aug. 16, in favour of permitting retail cannabis sales in any zone where “retail” is a permitted use.

The decision came after lengthy discussion by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Board of Directors on four possible options presented by staff on how the district might regulate retail cannabis sales.

Directors considered two other options as well: to regulate cannabis sales through a temporary use permit, or to prohibit sales entirely.

Staff were looking for board direction in order to begin formulating policy for cannabis sales when the product becomes legal on Oct. 17.

Development Services Manager Brad Dollevoet recommended to the planning and development committee option two, which would see cannabis sales restricted to urban commercial zones such as the regional district’s town and village centre zones.

These would include Okanagan Falls town centre, Naramata Village Centre and Apex Mountain village.

The idea of only allowing sales in three locations in the regional district didn’t sit well with several board members who said cannabis, as a retail product, should be allowed to be sold wherever retail zoning was in place, which Dollevoet said was scattered throughout the regional district.

West Bench Director Michael Brydon reminded the committee that all retail cannabis applications would require board approval, regardless of where retail sales were set up.

Dollevoet said the purpose behind today’s discussion was to get an idea of where the board wished to go in terms of locating cannabis sales, so that business owners preparing retail sales plans would have some idea where the board would favour a retail location.

Oliver rural Director Terry Schafer and Okanagan Falls Director Tom Siddon expressed fears the issue was moving ahead too quickly.

Siddon said he was opposed to rushing to consolidate cannabis sales as a permitted use in Okanagan Falls without prior public consultation, saying consideration of the town centre to schools and parks needed to be considered.

The committee agreed to permit retail cannabis sales in any zone where retail is a permitted use, along with conditions, which staff will research and present back to the board at a future meeting.

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