Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Ron Seymour
Page: A1


Special zoning, prohibited areas proposed for sale of pot in

Pot shops could be banned along Bernard Avenue, Ellis Street and
Pandosy Street even after the drug is legalized, Kelowna city council
will hear Monday.

City staff recommend that "prohibited areas" be created, in which the
drug could not be sold even if the federal government moves forward as
expected with its plan to legalize marijuana.

People wanting to sell pot commercially would need to obtain a special
zoning for their property, similar to regulations already in place for
privately owned liquor outlets, staff suggest.

The overall intent of the recommendations is to prevent a free-for-all
from developing post-legalization, with pot shops popping up
everywhere in the Central Okanagan.

"(We) are working with neighbouring municipalities in an effort to
move forward with a co-ordinated approach to future land use
regulation for the retail sale/dispensing of marijuana," community
planning manager Ryan Smith writes in a report to council.

While Ottawa is expected to legalize marijuana, municipal authorities
believe they will still have considerable power to regulate where pot
can be sold.

Currently, it is illegal for anyone to sell marijuana, but pot shops
are nevertheless appearing in many communities, with the operators
banking their establishments will be accepted once the drug is legalized.

But there are no guarantees existing pot shops will be permitted to
continue operating where they are currently located after legalization
of the drug, Smith warns.

"Staff are concerned that those taking the risk to invest in such a
way prior to formal law/policy from the federal government, and
regulation from local government, may run into future conflict with
land use regulations," Smith says.

For now, city staff propose an amendment to the zoning typically used
for retail operations to specifically exclude the retail sale of
marijuana. That would make it clear, Smith says, that the current pot
shops are illegal.

After federal legalization of the drug, staff suggest, council should
adopt a new zoning designation specifically for pot shops. That would
require operators to go through a rezoning process for their
properties, and allow neighbours to comment.

As well, pot shops could still be banned from some "prohibited areas,"
staff suggest, such as downtown streets with high pedestrian traffic,
as well as spots deemed too close to public parks and schools.
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