Ladysmith residents should keep an eye on their mailboxes over the coming weeks as the town expects to be sending out paper surveys regarding the retail sale of cannabis in town, but don’t be expecting a legal store to opening in town anytime soon.
The community consultation will likely be less than 10 questions and comes as nationwide legalization of the drug takes place on Oct. 17.
A draft of the survey approved by city council includes questions such as how many cannabis outlets should be located in town, options for locations, and whether a specified distance should separate dispensaries from playgrounds, retirement homes or parks.
“It’s nice to have the option to do some of the restrictions but it also sort of puts the pressure on every local government to take the heat in their own community. And you see the conversation, it doesn’t matter if it’s North Cowichan with the Chemainus dispensaries, you’re in a no-winning conversation because both sides of the issue come down quite heavily when it doesn’t fit what we all think from a moral judgment standpoint,” said Mayor Aaron Stone.
“There’s passionate voices on all sides of the issue and I appreciate Councillor Arnett reminding us as we went through this process, this isn’t a moral argument, this is a legal thing, it’s coming, so we just want to ensure we provide the best balance we can.”
There was some conversation over posting the survey online, or through PlaceSpeak, versus mailing it out.
Anyone wishing to fill out the survey online can do so by contacting the town and they will be given a unique link so results can’t be duplicated.
All the results will be gathered by the end of the year.
As of next Wednesday, adults over the age of 19 years old will be able to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public. Smoking of vaping cannabis is also allowed in most public spaces where you can already light at cigarette.
The exceptions are areas regularly used by children, such as in playgrounds, schools or other public areas.
The town as well as Indigenous governments have the ability to further regulate cannabis.
But don’t expect to see any legal cannabis stores popping up anytime soon in Ladysmith.
According to the mayor, the proper processes haven’t even been put into place by other levels of government to make that happen. The one exception is a government-owned store in Kamloops that will open on Oct.17.
“Some of the provincial and federal regulations are in place but the processes for applying and getting your license approved, that can then go to a municipality to go through that process, isn’t even developed yet. They don’t think it’s going to be live on the day so it’s likely going to be into next year before you see legal cannabis retail on the streets…,” Stone said.
Ladysmith gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment last week that would require a business cultivating, growing or researching cannabis to provide an odour abatement plan if it is within 500 metres of a residential zone.
“The odour abatement plan would require an impact assessment of the proposed use and a plan for odour control measures. As ventilation and air filtration systems are subject to the BC Building Code, the Town is not able to regulate the type of ventilation or air filtration that could be required….,” according to the staff report.
Councillor Steve Arnett, who recently attended UBCM where cannabis was a hot topic for discussion, said the battle against odour may be a losing one.
“I think it’s important for all of us to know that it does not appear that there is complete ability to eliminate all odour unless you have a completely sealed, indoor operation, and it’s literally miles from anyone else,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know there are limits… and we’re doing the best that we can on it.”
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