Council approves cannabis zoning bylaw

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John City Council has approved a proposed zoning amendment bylaw to limit cannabis retail operations to the city’s downtown area.

The City held a public hearing on the proposed bylaw, which passed the first two readings at a council meeting on July 9th.

At that meeting, councillors voted in favour of limiting cannabis retail operations to all properties zoned C2-Downtown Commercial that are at least 200 metres from schools and 100 metres from parks and cemeteries.

As he did at the last meeting, councillor Trevor Bolin once again excused himself from the hearing, declaring himself to potentially be in a conflict of interest due to owning a commercial-zoned property.

Residents attending Monday night’s public hearing on cannabis retail. Photo by Chris Newton

Last night’s public hearing saw a total of 11 residents attend, though only one person spoke.

Theresa Mucci-Rodgers with NorthEast B.C. Realty spoke to council about her experiences in receiving inquiries from representatives of national retail companies looking to acquire real estate to set up cannabis retail in the city.

She also urged council to proceed carefully in how it rolls out business licenses for cannabis retail, telling council about how cities like Edmonton have decided to hold lotteries for prospective cannabis retail operators.

Ashley Murphy and Renee Jamurat from the City’s planning department also said that they had received at least 50 inquiries about cannabis retail this year.

The two planners also clarified an amendment that was made to the proposed bylaw ahead of the meeting, which allowed any properties that partially fell within the 200-metre and 100-metre buffer zones from parks and schools to be allowed to operate cannabis retail.

The pair said that under the proposal 139 properties would be able to host cannabis retail, but only 101 properties would be allowed a cannabis store if any property partially covered by the buffer zone were prohibited.

After hearing feedback from residents, Council voted in favour of the bylaw as proposed, which will go into effect after recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada, which is due to occur on October 17th.

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