Pubdate: Wed, 08 Mar 2017
Source: Haida Gwaii Observer (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Observer Publishing Co. Ltd
Author: Andrew Hudson


Village of Queen Charlotte surveys residents ahead of marijuana

Queen Charlotte is asking how residents want local marijuana
businesses to take shape once the drug is legal.

The village recently launched an online survey asking what
marijuana-based business people might support, what concerns they may
have, and also whether they are keen to get started in the industry.

"It's really about what our community is comfortable with," says Lori
Wiedeman, chief administrative officer for the Village of Queen Charlotte.

Wiedeman said the village hopes to take a more considered approach
than some other B.C. municipalities, such as Vancouver and Victoria,
where dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries cropped up ahead of
changes to federal drug laws.

Two weeks ago, Queen Charlotte councillors gave first reading of a new
zoning bylaw that would prohibit any marijuana businesses in the
village before legalization comes into effect.

Ottawa is expected to introduce legislation that will slowly legalize
and regulate marijuana sales sometime this spring.

"The whole point of the zoning we're doing now is really just to give
us breathing room to figure things out," said Wiedeman.

Among the issues that might come up are noise, odor, and fire
regulations, as well as rules about how close a marijuana store might
be to a school, and whether growing operations should be in the
village's industrial zone.

"It's coming into effect, and if we don't have specific zoning in
place, they can pop up anywhere," said Councillor Richard Decembrini,
speaking at a Feb. 2o council meeting.

"There will be a public consultation period, and we can discuss as a
community how this will enter our space," said Councillor Sabrina
Frazier, who stood in as acting mayor for the meeting.

Several residents attended the meeting after seeing an Observer
Facebook post that listed the new bylaw prohibitions, but did not
explain why they are being considered.

Councillors decided not to pass the new bylaw right away to give
people more time to learn about it.

"We are aware that there will be some questions asked, so we're doing
it slower by doing it one reading at a time," said Councillor Ellen

Wiedeman said even before the new federal rules come into effect, the
village could grant marijuana businesses a temporary-use permit, so
long as they meet community guidelines.

The new bylaw is mainly intended to stop any unapproved operations
from starting now and getting 'grandfathered' later when the federal
rules eventually change.

"It sounds funny to be saying it, but we're hoping to attract somebody
interested in doing a grow operation - a commercial operation, either
for recreational or medical," she said, adding that it could bring
full-time jobs to Haida Gwaii, not to mention a locally grown product.

As it happens, Queen Charlotte is the only incorporated village on
island that does not have business licensing, which is another idea
the village will be asking residents about soon.

"That would be another whole public consultation," said

"You have more control when you can give a licence or take a licence
away, but what would that look like for all of the other businesses in
town? We'd have to really think about that."
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