Castlegar heading for laid-back cannabis regulations

Castlegar heading for laid-back cannabis regulations

No minimum distances and no maximum numbers for recreational cannabis stores

After more than an hour of discussion, Castlegar city council came to a consensus this week about what recreational cannabis bylaws will look like.

The recommendations that will now go back to staff to form into bylaws are:

• Retail sales of recreational cannabis will be permitted in any commercial or industrial zone where retail sales are permitted;

• No cap on the number of recreational cannabis establishments;

• Operating hours of retail stores will be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.;

• No minimum distance restrictions will be set for stores from schools, youth facilities, parks, etc.;

• No minimum distance will be set between cannabis stores.;

• Applicants for a recreational cannabis business license will be required to provide a business plan/feasibility study that address the following: plans to minimize impact to the neighbourhood, compliance to zoning and distance from sensitive areas, odor control measures, security measures, compliance with BC Fire Code regulations, HVAC and alarm systems, and a rendering that shows the exterior and facade will be consistent with development permit guidelines;

• An application fee of $1,500 will be required to cover advertising costs associated with the public consultation and approval process;

• Applicants will have to meet all provincial requirments;

• Smoking cannabis will be prohibited in all public spaces.

Once the draft bylaws have been prepared they will be referred to the recreational cannabis working group and the advisory planning commission for their review.

Some of the recommendations go against the results of the recreational cannabis survey that the city conducted in the spring.

More than 600 people participated in the online survey.

Council decided there should not be any restrictions on the distance a store can be from schools, youth facilities and parks. Two main reasons were heard during the council discussion — that cannabis stores should not be treated any differently than any other legal business and that a distance limit would eliminate sections of Columbia Avenue that would be prime locations for recreational cannabis stores.

Almost two-thirds of survey respondents wanted a minimum distance of separation from areas where youth are present somewhere between 100 and 300 metres, with 29 per cent asking for a 300 metre separation, 17 per cent 200 metres and 16 per cent 100 metres.

While 31 per cent of respondents felt there should not be restrictions on the maximum number of stores in any given area town, the majority of respondents felt there should be some restrictions — 39 per cent said there should only be one store in each area of town, 15 per cent said there should be two stores in each area and another six per cent said there should be a maximum of three to five stores in each area.

Nelson, Trail and Rossland have set up more restrictive regulations.

Nelson is only going to allow a maximum of five stores: two stores downtown, one on Nelson Avenue/Highway 3A, one in the industrial/Lakeside Drive area, and one in Railtown. They have also implemented a business selection system.

Related: Nelson council approves cannabis business selection system

Nelson has also set a 150 metre buffer zone between cannabis stores and youth facilities, with some exceptions in compact areas of town. They have also set limits on floor space (500 square metres) and storefront space (16 metres).

Rossland has not set a limit on the number of stores, but has set distance requirements from youth facilities — 150 metres.

Trail has set a buffer zone of 100 metres from youth facilities. They will allow stores in four commercial zones — the Gulch, downtown, East Trail and Waneta Plaza but will not cap the number of stores in town.

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