Rossland’s city council will let the market decide how many cannabis dispensaries will be allowed in town- but they’ll be nowhere near schools or places where young people gather.
And public smoking of weed in the city’s downtown commercial zone will be prohibited.
The rules on the use and sale of cannabis are being developed now, after council gave city staff direction based on the results of an online survey of locals on what the city should do when marijuana is legalized.
Results from the cannabis survey were released this week by council.
The city received more than 500 responses to its survey, designed to give local politicans a sense of the public’s wishes when it came to allowing pot in city boundaries.
The city is adjusting its bylaws in anticipation of legalization of recreational cannabis later this summer. Cities and towns have the authority to set their own regulations on marijuana sales and use in their communities.
And while not a scientific survey, it also gives a bit of a snapshot into local attitudes about marijuana use:a large majority of residents are for legalization; but youth access to cannabis is a concern.
The largest number of respondents (155) only want two stores in town, though a lot (130) wanted only one. Conversely, a fair number (131) said there should be no limit. But council decided that the market, not council, should determine how many shops the city can support- and let good business practices determine who survives.
• a majority indicated the downtown core commercial zone should be where the shops are located.
• the largest number of respondents felt stores should be 150 metres away from schools, day cares and youth centres (176)- yet again, a large minority (151) felt there should be no restriction.
• provincial legislation on business hours should be followed (183 agreed), but no stricter security systems should be demanded. Council recommended both ideas to staff, saying they didn’t want to overreach into how businesses run themselves.
• nearly half of respondents (244) said the city should follow the rules outlined in its draft Clean Air Bylaw — smoking and vaping in public should be banned in many areas.
• stores selling cannabis products should have air filter systems to minimize odour impacts
“I think we got the information we needed,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “I love when the public tells us what their views are. There was a lot of variety, for as small as we are, there’s quite a diverse population and what they feel about it. It’s a delicate balancing act to try to create legislation that is the best for the community, and that is our intent.”
Moore said some respondents thought the city was overstepping its mandate by getting involved in the debate, but she says municipalities have a strong role to play in regulating the operation of cannabis stores locally — especially in their siting, daily operations and local consumption laws.
“It is us actually being responsible about what the bylaw is going to look like, and make it be something that works for the majority of Rosslanders,” she says.
Council accepted the cannabis survey as information on Tuesday, and directed staff to draw up amendments to bylaws to reflect their views, based on the survey. The city’s zoning bylaw, business bylaws, and upcoming Clean Air Bylaw will all be adjusted to reflect the reality of legalized marijuana.
Those amendments will be coming before council for approval over the next few months. Marijuana is expected to be legalized sometime later in the summer.