City council's rules about dispensary location and licencing will be in effect until the federal government comes up with new legislation.

Nelson council passes cannabis bylaws

City council's rules about dispensary location and licencing will be in effect until the federal government comes up with new legislation.

Nelson council voted in favour of final adoption of its medical cannabis business licence bylaw as well as its cannabis business zoning amendment bylaw on Monday night, stating that the bylaws will be in place until the federal government brings in regulations.

Mayor Deb Kozak said council has spent an inordinate amount of time discussing this.

“There have been many hours of staff and council research, it has been onerous. We are trying to put in place a good interim bylaw composed of best practices, plus taking into consideration our small downtown.”

The business licence bylaw

The business licence bylaw restricts the number of cannabis dispensaries in the city to six and requires operators to apply for a $5,000 annual licence.

It imposes a number of specified security provisions such as video surveillance cameras, security and fire alarms, and air filtration. It contains stipulations about signage and the number of staff who must be on the premises. Windows facing the street must not be opaque.

People under 19 are not allowed on the premises unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, and no one may smoke or ingest cannabis on the premises.

A violation of the bylaw can lead to a maximum of six months in jail or a $10,000 fine.

The business licence bylaw had already passed third reading at a previous council meeting and was on the table again Monday for final adoption.

Before the vote, city management presented a summary of 64 comments from 36 commenters that the city had received from the public about the licencing bylaw.

The most frequent comment was from 16 people who felt that the licence fee was too high. Only seven of the 64 comments asked for dispensaries to be disallowed.

All councillors including Mayor Deb Kozak voted in favour of the bylaw except Councillors Bob Adams and Janice Morrison.

Adams moved that the bylaw be withdrawn and that there be no bylaw until the federal government comes up with its marijuana legislation. No one seconded his motion.

Morrison stated that she disagrees with people being allowed to sell or purchase marijuana regardless of licencing.

“This is an illegal business and until such time as the federal government, which I feel has done a really good job of abdicating their role, gets this completed, I think these compassion clubs and marijuana dispensaries should be closed in the city of Nelson,” said Morrison.

The zoning amendment bylaw

The zoning amendment bylaw had already passed second reading at a previous council meeting and was on the table again Monday for third reading and final adoption.

The bylaw creates rules about where cannabis-related businesses may be located, in this case in the C1 (downtown commercial) and MU4 (waterfront mixed use) zones, and it stipulates that in those zones they may not exist within certain specified distances of each other, or within 80 metres of the youth centre or a public school.

Whenever a municipality changes the rules on what kind of business can exist in specific zones of the city, it must hold a public hearing so that property owners in the immediate area can speak about how they zoning change will affect them.

Seven people spoke, five of them owners or employees of existing dispensaries explaining why the bylaw is onerous.

The most common concern was that three dispensaries located in the Front Street area are now in violation of the new bylaw because they are located too close to each other and too close to the youth centre, and will have to either move or apply to the city for a variance. Moving will not be easy, they said, because of a lack of commercial real estate space in Nelson.

Phillip McMillan, who has run the Compassion Club as a non-profit since 1999, said, “This bylaw will add unnecessary costs to sick and dying people who are financially struggling. I have tried to make my product as affordable as possible.”

All councillors including the mayor voted in favour of the bylaw except Adams and Morrison.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Regional District of Central Kootenay declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders and alerts

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

Work begins on new affordable housing building in Nelson

The 39-unit project is expected to be complete by July 2021

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Morning Start: 180 different bird species exist in Kootenay National Park

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 29

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read