Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Black Press
Author: Tyler Harper


Forms are being sent out to households and businesses this month

City staff have set an aggressive timetable for public debate over the
future of cannabis sales and consumption in Nelson ahead of federal
legalization this summer.

Feedback forms are set to be sent the week of Feb. 12 to every
household and business within city limits. The survey, which needs to
be returned to City Hall by Feb. 28, will be used by staff and council
to help draft regulations in March.

That draft is hoped to be returned to the public in April, followed by
at least two months of council debate prior to legalization, the date
of which has not yet been set by the federal government.

Pam Mierau, the city's planning manager, said Thursday she hopes
residents understand how important their feedback is to the process.

"We want to create rules that work for everybody in this community and
that reflect the wants and needs of people who live here," she said.
"It's really important that people get out there, either come to out
to these public sessions or definitely fill out that feedback form and
get it back to us."

Mierau said the latest public consultation won't be bound to previous
decisions made by city council about the six medical dispensaries
currently operating in Nelson.

In March 2017, city council voted to amend a zoning bylaw and adopt a
business licence bylaw that would each allow local dispensaries to
remain active at their current locations until federal legislation was

Then last month, council placed a moratorium on recreational cannabis
sales, which is meant to prevent more businesses opening in Nelson
before provincial and federal rules are made public.

All of those changes, however, could be completely re-written
depending on the feedback given to city staff. Topics for discussion

* The amount of recreational businesses and medical dispensaries
allowed to operate in Nelson, as well as where within city limits they
are allowed to be built. Mierau said feedback given Thursday by local
stakeholders suggested the current number of six dispensaries could be

* The Clean Air Bylaw, which currently says residents can't smoke
within seven metres of a public entrance, anywhere within local parks,
School District 8 properties, Interior Health properties and at
transit stops. Mierau said that bylaw could become more restrictive if
called for by the public, and may require more bylaw enforcement officers.

* Where residents can plant cannabis on private land. Individuals will
be allowed up to four plants growing either inside a home or on their
property. If those plants should be visible from the sidewalk, Mierau
said, is part of the debate.

Related: Nelson council passes cannabis bylaws

Related: Cannabis: council passes moratorium after public hearing

In a presentation to media Thursday, staff said they had already
consulted with five American communities in states where cannabis is
legalized, and had reached out to 40 local stakeholder groups for

Mierau said there's little precedent in B.C. outside Vancouver for how
municipalities are preparing for legalization. A lot, she said, will
depend on regulations decided on by the province, which are expected
to be made public this month.

That announcement will also affect the six current dispensaries in
Nelson, which Mierau said may need to suspend operations while they
seek a provincial license.

"Our assumption is they will be treated like anybody else who is
looking to set up a retail store here, and they'll have to go through
the same process, and they won't have any advantage over anyone else,"
she said. "But we're not sure."

Mierau said a seventh dispensary, the Nelson Cannabis Compassion Club,
has continued to operate without a license. She added the city has
begun issuing fines to the club and that council may eventually
consider an injunction.

Public information sessions have been scheduled for Feb. 22nd and 24th
at noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on both days at City Hall. Staff
will also be available at Chahko-Mika Mall on the afternoon of Feb.
24. Current updates and background information can also be found at
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MAP posted-by: Matt