Pubdate: Wed, 08 Feb 2017
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press
Author: Will Johnson


This is all temporary.

Nelson city council passed the first three readings of a new pot
dispensary bylaw on Monday evening, but their assumption is the
federal government's coming legalization will make their work
redundant within the next three years.

"This really is a temporary thing, allowing this until we see what the
federal government is going to do," councillor Mike Dailly said during
the meeting.

"Then it will be ground zero, and we're going to have to start all
over again."

The process so far has been a little confusing, and very
controversial. Council rescinded their original bylaw attempt, which
would have restricted any dispensaries from operating within Nelson
city limits though it remained unclear what effect that would have had
on the six existing shops.

The latest bylaw incorporates a $5,000 annual business license and a
regulatory framework that sets out a list of fines for various
offences, rules for operation and deadlines for paying fees. Council
also put a cap on the number of dispensaries that will be approved at

There will be a public hearing on the new bylaw on March 6, before
council votes on final adoption.

The original bylaw was supported by Mayor Deb Kozak as well as
Councillors Bob Adams and Janice Morrison, but the trio are now at
odds. On Monday night all three readings passed with the support of
Kozak, Anna Purcell, Val Warmington and Dailly - Robin Cherbo was absent.

Community feedback was solicited prior to the meeting, and council
received correspondence from two dispensaries and 36 residents. The
primary feedback was that the proposed $5,000 business license fee was
too high, the restrictions on signage too strong and the security
requirements too stringent.

But Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart disagrees.

According to a council document, Burkart said, "because the
dispensaries often deal in cash and have a desired product, they are
at higher risk of being targeted in thefts, break and enters and robberies."

Burkart recommended that the security requirements in the bylaw remain
as written.

Now council has to figure out how to make the bylaw work. One of the
first questions: what happens if they receive more than six

"This is new territory," city manager Kevin Cormack

"We'll look at the quality of the application and the people behind
the businesses, but ultimately council might have to make some tough
choices. Hopefully we'll have six or less."

He noted the business licenses will belong to the business owner, not
the property manager, and they will be non-transferable. Also, a
license is required for each individual location.

Morrison and Adams both made a point of expressing their opposition to
the bylaw, though they praised the work done by staff. When the
upcoming public hearing on March 6 was mentioned,Adams said it was

"We don't need a public hearing," he said. "We already know it's

As far as fees are concerned, council feels the $5,000 is necessary to
set up the regulatory framework and enforce it.

"Unlike prescription drugs and alcohol which are regulated
provincially and federally, the city would be 100 per cent responsible
for regulating the dispensaries," the bylaw reads.

"Council recently chose to regulate short-term rentals and
substantially increased these fees from those charged to bed and

Kozak said key to their bylaw development process was observing what
other communities were doing, and the new bylaw is heavily derivative
of the ones introduced in Vancouver, Victoria and Squamish.

"If you look at our population, we have one dispensary for every 1,800
residents. Compare that to Victoria, which is one for 20,000 people.
If you're just thinking Nelson, it would seem we're pretty well served."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt