Nanaimo won’t have legal pot shops to coincide with the legalization of marijuana next month, but those businesses may not be far away.
Nanaimo city council, a meeting next week, is expected to adopt a new zoning bylaw amendment around the sale and production of cannabis. There was a public hearing earlier this month on the topic and then council passed third reading of the bylaw on Sept. 17. Council also amended and advanced cannabis retail store rezoning criteria that same night.
“There is a number of proposed stores that are interested in making application now,” said Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development. “The province has opened up that opportunity where they can make an application. Until such time as the bylaw is approved and the guidelines are approved, we wouldn’t be in a position to take applications.”
Cannabis retail stores will need to be 200 metres from any school or daycare. The draft criteria called for 150m and the councillors alluded to the school district asking for 300m, but Coun. Bill Yoachim said council was overthinking the distances.
“I think schools should be more interested where [youths] are going to be smoking it than where they’re buying it,” he said, and referenced comments from the former provincial health officer.
“As Dr. [Perry] Kendall said – who’s quite a bit more profound than the one here that lectures us all the time – he said alcohol is way more dangerous than pot,” Yoachim said.
Council also removed from the criteria the proposed requirement that cannabis retail store applicants provide a market study, though they still need to prepare a community impact statement.
Coun. Jerry Hong expects applicants will come to the city with detailed applications.
“If somebody gives us the information that is professional, that is laid out, that is presented well, then we’ll have a lot more consideration. They’re going to do that on their own…” he said. “For us to force these rules on them, it’s a waste of time.”
According to a city press release issued yesterday, the municipality requires applicants to meet with city staff and provide confirmation that a non-medical cannabis retail licence application has been filed with the province.
“Staff has worked hard to prepare for Oct. 17, but legalization is only the start,” said, Heidi Davidson, city manager of permit centre and business licensing, in the release. “Based on all the phone and e-mail enquiries, it’s anticipated that staff will be busy with pre-application meetings and processing rezoning and business licence applications once received.”