Sechelt councillors are expected to consider guidelines for cannabis retailers at this week’s committee of the whole meeting.
The proposed guidelines in a planning department report to be presented at the March 13 meeting would restrict non-medical cannabis retailers to commercial zones in the downtown core and the “regional commercial” hub in Wilson Creek. There would be a limit of six locations downtown and two in Wilson Creek “to avoid proliferation.”
Applications to open cannabis shops elsewhere would have to go through a site-specific rezoning process.
The cannabis retailers that were open in Sechelt pre-legalization are currently operating under temporary use permits, but do not have formal business licences and none has so far been granted a provincial licence to sell cannabis.
The district has already adopted a zoning amendment on manufacturing that allows non-medical cannabis to be produced in the same areas where medical cannabis facilities were already permitted and allows growing for personal use under the new federal rules in residential zones.
The smoking bylaw has also been updated to include cannabis smoking and vaping.
The retail rules are the last piece of the regulatory framework and the district has been seeking public input over the past few months.
In their report, planning staff said there was “general acceptance” of the existing retailers and “general support for allowing cannabis retail stores.”
They also said residents raised concerns about odour control, “frustration with the lack of enforcement by police and need for compliance regarding grow-ops.” There were also some responses from people who felt cannabis retailers should not be permitted in Sechelt or that there should be no more than the four retailers already operating under temporary permits.
As well as recommending limits on the number of non-medical cannabis stores, Sechelt’s planning department is recommending buffer zones of 150 metres around schools, the Aquatic Centre and the playground at Hackett Park.
Staff are also recommending that “store names, signage and display material must not include words or graphics intended to appeal to minors, show the use of cannabis or promote excessive use or intoxication” and that “all applicants for a non-medical marijuana retail establishment must meet all the relevant requirements and legislation established by the provincial and federal governments.”