Pubdate: Wed, 08 Mar 2017
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press
Author: Bill Metcalfe


Nelson council voted in favour of final adoption of its medical
cannabis business licence bylaw as well as its cannabis business
zoning amendment bylaw on Monday night, stating that the bylaws will
be in place until the federal government brings in

Mayor Deb Kozak said council has spent an inordinate amount of time
discussing this.

"There have been many hours of staff and council research, it has been
onerous. We are trying to put in place a good interim bylaw composed
of best practices, plus taking into consideration our small downtown."

The business licence bylaw

The business licence bylaw restricts the number of cannabis
dispensaries in the city to six and requires operators to apply for a
$5,000 annual licence.

It imposes a number of specified security provisions such as video
surveillance cameras, security and fire alarms, and air filtration. It
contains stipulations about signage and the number of staff who must
be on the premises. Windows facing the street must be opaque.

People under 19 are not allowed on the premises unless accompanied by
a parent or guardian, and no one may smoke or ingest cannabis on the

A violation of the bylaw can lead to a maximum of six months in jail
or a $10,000 fine.

The business licence bylaw had already passed third reading at a
previous council meeting and was on the table again Monday for final

Before the vote, city management presented a summary of 64 comments
from 36 commenters that the city had received from the public about
the licencing bylaw.

The most frequent comment was from 16 people who felt that the licence
fee was too high. Only seven of the 64 comments asked for dispensaries
to be disallowed.

All councillors including Mayor Deb Kozak voted in favour of the bylaw
except Councillors Bob Adams and Janice Morrison.

Adams moved that the bylaw be withdrawn and that there be no bylaw
until the federal government comes up with its marijuana legislation.
No one seconded his motion.

Morrison stated that she disagrees with people being allowed to sell
or purchase marijuana regardless of licencing.

"This is an illegal business and until such time as the federal
government, which I feel has done a really good job of abdicating
their role, gets this completed, I think these compassion clubs and
marijuana dispensaries should be closed in the city of Nelson," said

The zoning amendment bylaw

The zoning amendment bylaw had already passed second reading at a
previous council meeting and was on the table again Monday for third
reading and final adoption.

The bylaw creates rules about where cannabis-related businesses may be
located, in this case in the C1 (downtown commercial) and MU4
(waterfront mixed use) zones, and it stipulates that in those zones
they may not exist within certain specified distances of each other,
or within 80 metres of the youth centre or a public school.

Whenever a municipality changes the rules on what kind of business can
exist in specific zones of the city, it must hold a public hearing so
that property owners in the immediate area can speak abouthow they
zoning change will affect them.

Seven people spoke, five of them owners or employees of existing
dispensaries explaining why the bylaw is onerous.

The most common concern was that three dispensaries located in the
Front Street area are now in violation of the new bylaw because they
are located too close to each other and too close to the youth centre,
and will have to either move or apply to the city for a variance.
Moving will not be easy,they said, because of a lack of commercial
real estate space in Nelson.

Phillip McMillan, who has run the Compassion Club as a non-profit
since 1999, said, "This bylaw will add unnecessary costs to sick and
dying people who are financially struggling. I have tried to make my
product as affordable as possible."

All councillors including the mayor voted in favour of the bylaw
except Adams and Morrison.
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