Nelson tackles pot dispensary zoning

Public hearing will be held at city hall on Monday at 6 p.m.

Leaf Cross Health manager Vic Olak is seen in his Baker St. storefront with supporters and patients

Nobody seems to be able to keep track of how many marijuana dispensaries there currently are in Nelson. Until recently there were seven operating downtown, but Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak’s pretty sure it’s up to nine now.

“Council wants to see a healthy, diverse business community but we don’t want to see a whole line of pot shops down Baker St. the same way you wouldn’t want a whole block of dentist and doctor’s offices,” Kozak told the Star, in the days leading up to a public hearing on marijuana dispensaries at 6 p.m. on Monday.

“This bylaw will give the city control over how and where these businesses can operate in preparation for the legalization of the industry.”

After the hearing council will vote on a zoning bylaw amendment that will prohibit dispensaries in the city, since the current bylaw does not mention them specifically. It will define geographical zones of the city and delineate what activities may take place in them.

Kozak knows the dispensary situation is escalating quickly two years ago there was only one compassion club in Nelson but she said people working within the marijuana industry have been co-operative and non-confrontational thus far, which explains why they haven’t been forced to intervene earlier.

“We’ve watched it evolve in our own community and we’ve been keeping a close eye on the situation,” said Kozak. “But I’m surprised. Who would’ve thought we would have nine? I don’t think any of us anticipated that was going to happen.”

So once the bylaw goes to a vote, zoning staff with the city will be heading out into the community to talk to the dispensaries. They will have the ability to levy fines and restrict where dispensaries can operate, but Kozak said they don’t aim to have an antagonistic approach.

“There’s been no talk of intervention yet. I don’t see it as a closed conversation. We would be in conversation with the larger community, and they deserve to have a say. That’s just how it has to work.”

Kozak hasn’t yet set foot in any of the marijuana dispensaries, but said they haven’t dramatically altered the vibe of Nelson or affected business as usual. But she acknowledged the influx of entrepreneurs looking to “get in at the ground floor.”

“Make no mistake: there is a lot of money to be made, and the city is looking at that as well.”

But currently the city isn’t issuing business licenses to dispensaries, as they’re doing in cities such as Vancouver and Kimberley, and Kozak has heard from a number of concerned residents and business owners who are annoyed by that fact.

“I can empathize with that concern,” said Kozak. “They’ve got a good point there, but we’re kind of between a rock and a hard place. We took legal advice and the advice of our staff not to issue business licenses, but that doesn’t preclude us from acting in the future to level the playing field.”

That being said, she hasn’t heard much controversy over the bylaw so far.

“The information released after the last council meeting around the purpose of the bylaw and what it hoped to achieve, I think most people heard that and thought it made sense as the next step to take for our community.”

Her goal: balance.

“We want to have a good balance of businesses in our downtown, and to achieve that we need to have solid planning in place.”

If you can’t attend the public hearing on Monday, written responses will also be accepted.

 

Just Posted

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

KBRH on watch for bed bugs after two recent cases

Spokesperson Mandy Lowery says there has not been a bed bug sighting at KBRH since Dec. 8

Coffee card donations return at Wait’s News

The program supplied over 200 cards last year

Trafalgar students build home for sanctuary horse

Grade 8 students collaborated on a project with a local farm sanctuary

Nelson won’t restrict parking amnesty to West Kootenay

So far, more than 800 people have responded with amnesty payments

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Most Read