Seventy-five per cent of Nelson residents think there should be a maximum number of cannabis retailers allowed in the city, a recent survey has found.
Another 75 per cent think smoking of cannabis should be banned in all public places, and 71 per cent think there should be lounges or cafes in which consumption is allowed.
Those are two of the results of the city’s cannabis survey reported at Monday’s council meeting. The survey was distributed in February to 4,959 households and 686 businesses in Nelson. The return rate was 32 per cent for households and 27 per cent for businesses, for a total of 1,779 forms received. City planner Alex Thumm says that as far as public surveys go, that’s a good response rate.
“The statistical significance of our survey is superior to that of most opinion polls or studies that get published,” he said.
Detailed survey results are attached below.
Other notable results:
- On the question of operating hours for cannabis retailers, opinions were split but 35 per cent said it should be the same as liquor stories.
- 43 per cent think people should be able to grow cannabis outdoors, and 23 per cent said only inside.
- 45 per cent said retailers should be at least five blocks from schools, parks and playgrounds, and 27 per cent said at least three blocks, while other responses were more lenient or were unsure.
- Asked whether they hope to start a cannabis business once it is legalized, three per cent (56) said yes and seven per cent (133) said they were unsure.
- 74 per cent support legalization of cannabis use in Canada, 22 per cent oppose it, and four per cent were unsure.
At Monday’s meeting, city planner Pam Mierau said most of the laws about cannabis will be provincial and federal, but municipalities will be responsible for zoning, business licenses, public consumption and public cultivation. She said this raises some basic questions that council will have to answer in future meetings, based on the public feedback.
- How far apart should retail outlets be, how far must they be from schools, parks, and playgrounds, and should there be a maximum number of stores? These questions are interrelated, and Mierau showed council maps of a number of options illustrating how the stricter the requirements, the fewer locations would be possible because of the compact nature of the city.
- What limits should be placed on public consumption? “Sixty-two per cent said it should follow the Clean Air Bylaw,” Mierau said, “and we could go further and say no public consumption, and there was strong public support for that.” The Clean Air Bylaw prohibits smoking within seven metres of a public entrance and in parks.
- What operating hours should be allowed? The public feedback was evenly balanced between requiring the same hours as liquor stores (9 a.m. to 11 p.m.), the same as medical cannabis (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), or more restrictive.
- Should residents be allowed to grow cannabis outside on private property? The options, based on public feedback, Mierau said, would be to go with the provincial regulations (plants not visible from public spaces) or to be more restrictive.
Council received the survey results on Monday but made no decisions. They will grapple with the above questions over the next couple of months in order to have regulations in place by the summer.
Depending on upcoming decisions by Nelson council and the provincial and federal governments, Nelson’s current medical dispensaries might have to re-apply for licenses under new laws and regulations.
In addition to the survey to residents and businesses, the city set up a variety of information booths, open houses, a website, and small group meetings with stakeholder groups.
For example, the survey report states that in those consultations, the business community, the social services sector and the police all felt that there should be a limited number of cannabis stores and no public consumption.
Details of that part of the survey are also attached below.
- Nelson council passes cannabis bylaws (March 2017)
- Cannabis: council passes moratorium after public hearing (Jan. 2018)
- Cannabis: Nelson council asks for public feedback (Feb. 2018)