White Rock council has passed bylaws relating to cannabis use and retail sale within the city, pending federal legalization of recreational use, scheduled for Oct. 17.
At its July 23 meeting council passed, without comment, an amendment to the city’s existing smoking protection bylaw. It now specifies cannabis, along with tobacco, as a substance that may not be smoked within defined areas in the city.
While the limitations on smoking will now be virtually the same for both products, the amendment also includes an additional prohibition for cannabis – under the forthcoming federal law it will not be legal to consume it in a motor vehicle.
Council also gave third and final reading – again without comment – to the zoning bylaw amendment that will permit operation of a single cannabis retail store on a trial basis in the town centre on a temporary use permit.
The city has described the amendment as part of a “limited and gradual” approach to introducing cannabis retail into White Rock – one in which the permit can be revoked if conditions are not met or problems are encountered.
Among limitations placed on the retail outlet are that it must be a minimum of 100 metres from the entrance of an existing child-care centre; a minimum of 1,000 metres from any other cannabis store; and a minimum of 30 metres from Bryant Park, Hodgson Park and the planned Town Square Park next to the Coast Capital Playhouse.
At a sparsely attended public hearing on the zoning amendment earlier in the evening, it was noted that no correspondence or submissions had been received.
Sole speaker was frequent council critic Roderick Louis, who said there was “too much silence in the bylaw as to whether there would be allowances for, or prohibitions against proprietors of cannabis (stores) being proprietors of a restaurant or cafe.”
While he said he was not speaking either in favour or against a restaurant or cafe participating in cannabis retail, he noted that the city is contemplating a new 300-seat restaurant at the foot of the pier as part of an ongoing study of potential East Beach projects, and suggested such an operation might only be economic if subsidized by cannabis sales.
Louis went on to urge council to direct staff to consult with Marine Drive business owners to get their views for or against potential future sale of cannabis on the waterfront “since that seems to be one of the most precarious places to set up a business these days in White Rock.”
Only response to Louis’ comments came from Mayor Wayne Baldwin.
“I would think that the public hearing required as part of the temporary-use permit process would take that into account,” he said.
The adoption of the bylaws followed review of information on coming federal and provincial laws and a public-consultation process in May, in which there were 85 survey responses, plus 12 sign-ins at a public open house on the topic.