Town Council met as the municipal services committee to receive feedback from the retail cannabis survey and deliberate policy around the sale of cannabis at a September 9 municipal services meeting.
Surveys were delivered to 3,461 homes in April. Surveys were available online, and additional surveys could be picked up from Town Hall. According to the Town’s statistics on capital projects, $20,000 was budgeted to complete the cannabis survey, and $16,200 has been spent to date.
59 percent of residents supported the sale of retail cannabis in Ladysmith, with 37 percent opposed. Those who supported it also supported the sale of cannabis in any retail space. Cannabis retailers cannot operate in any type of dwelling, which includes residential and mixed use buildings.
Councillors favoured a location in either downtown or Coronation Mall. Other locations considered were Rocky Creek road and Ludlow, as the light industrial area could suit needs of retailers and producers. Some councilors expressed concern that the light industrial locations are too far out of the way, and could pose security risks to retailers.
Council was reluctant to set minimum distance requirements from parks and schools. Council prefers to treat cannabis stores like liquor stores, and Ladysmith’s Liquor Depot is only steps away from Aggie Field. Retailers will be kept in specified areas and will not be operating near schools.
“It’s difficult when we start making moral judgements on marijuana… It’s a controlled substance, but it’s legal for recreational consumption. I think anybody who’s been in a properly licensed shop can see that [they]… exceed the quality of merchandising and security of a liquor store,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.
The municipal services committee made a recommendation that staff be directed to prepare necessary bylaw amendments to allow the sale of recreational cannabis in commercially zoned properties within specified areas, generally described as First Avenue and Esplanade, from Ludlow to Baden Powell, also including Coronation Square, and Rocky Creek road.
The bylaw amendment will be discussed at a future Town council meeting.