Municipalities racing the pot legalization clock

With time running out, B.C. cities still are not sure what the retail landscape will look like once recreational pot is legalized.

If local governments are looking with unease at the looming legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s not surprising.

There have been precious few facts for them to build on.

Last week the provincial government tried to clear some of the smoke with its release of how it would manage distribution and sale of the product.

But questions still remain.

The biggest is how municipalities will regulate the retail stores that will sell the cannabis products.

Although the province, through its liquor distribution branch, will manage the wholesale distribution, local sales will be a mix of private and government outlets.

The permit process for those storefronts, however, will rest with local government. They’ll have the final say on where the stores will be located, how far they can be situated from a school, or even if they’ll be allowed at all.

The provincial government is currently working with the Union of B.C. Municipalities to come up with some kind of broad plan.

But the clock is ticking.

The federal government has promised legalization by July. Retail sales aren’t expected to follow immediately; it will take some time for growers of what is still an illegal product to supply inventory.

However, industry is certainly getting prepared nonetheless. Recruitment companies have even been created to help supply workers for this burgeoning industry. In the interior, plans are in place for what’s being billed as the largest growing facility in the province, with 700,000 square feet of space and an annual production capability of 100,000 kilograms per year.

These projects aren’t just big, they’re lucrative. An Ontario licensed marijuana producer recently bought a similar B.C. company for a reported $230 million.

The city of Chilliwack, meanwhile, approved a rezoning application Tuesday for a 26,000 square foot medical marijuana facility on industrial land on Aitken Road.

That brought some discussion about the city’s participation in a trade that’s still fighting to find some legitimacy.

That conversation is likely to get louder as Chilliwack provides greater clarity on zoning applications, hours of operation and the number – if any – of retail stores allowed in the city.

There is still time for Chilliwack to develop a cohesive strategy that acknowledges this new regulatory reality, while still providing rules that discourage access by minors and reflect neighbourhood concern.

But that time is running out. Local governments need to make known their plans following the full decriminalization of marijuana, while providing ample opportunity for public feedback and discussion.

The result likely won’t satisfy everyone, but it is a conversation that needs to start happening sooner, rather than later.

Greg Knill is editor of the Chilliwack Progress

Just Posted

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Swain will move over to mayor’s chair in Lantzville

Mark Swain and councillors Jamie Wilson, Karen Proctor, Ian Savage and Will Geselbracht elected

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

WEB POLL: How do you feel about the new city council Nanaimo has elected?

City of Nanaimo votes in its next municipal government

ELECTION DAY: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

Hemmens, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Brown, Turley, Bonner, Thorpe and Maartman elected as councillors

ELECTION DAY: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

Hemmens, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Brown, Turley, Bonner, Thorpe and Maartman elected as councillors

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

When to vote, where to vote, how to vote

Voting day is Oct. 20, with polls open 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

Most Read