Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jul 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Bill Cleverley
Page: A4


Cannabis dispensaries in the city should be farther apart, say two
Victoria councillors who are proposing doubling the minimum distance
between shops to 400 metres from 200.

"We're getting neighbourhoods and residents, especially the North Park
residents and the downtown residents, who don't think the 200 metres
is sufficient," said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who with Coun.
Margaret Lucas is proposing the change. "Especially downtown, they're
concerned, basically, about [having] one on every corner."

With the 200-metre limit, the Downtown Victoria Business Association
has estimated there is room for 20 to 30 cannabis retailers downtown.

The minimum distance is a guideline considered during the rezoning
process and can be changed at council's discretion.

As one of council's downtown liaisons, Lucas has said she's been
inundated with emails from merchants worried about the numbers of
potential marijuana retailers and potential problems with odours,
ventilation and loitering.

Until the federal government's new laws come into play next year,
possession and retailing of marijuana remains illegal.

But Victoria was faced with so many dispensaries setting up shop, it
opted to follow Vancouver's lead in developing zoning and licensing

"There are many who think we shouldn't be allowing them at all,"
Thornton-Joe said. "But if they are going to be approved, we
definitely don't want such a proliferation and the 200 metres does
seem to be a little bit close."

Trees Dispensary at 546 Yates St. became the first cannabis retailer
to be zoned and licensed to sell marijuana in April. Another
application in the 500-block of Yates was turned down because it was
within the 200-metre limit.

The city's policy also recommends that no cannabis dispensary be
allowed within 200 metres of a school. Thornton-Joe and Lucas are
proposing no change to that distance.

Under Victoria's business licence regulations, cannabis-related
businesses must not allow individuals under 19 on the premises, allow
consumption on the premises, advertise beyond minimal signage, or be
open after 8 p.m. or before 7 a.m.

They must install air-filtration systems to reduce odour for
neighbours, have a security plan, post health and safety warning signs
and ensure the premises are only used for the sale of medical cannabis
and accessory uses.

City staff have said the 200-metre policy was never intended to limit
the number of cannabis shops in the city, but rather to prevent
clusters of cannabis retailers or "pot blocks."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt