Changes to respective zoning bylaws are how municipalities from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley are readying for pot legalization in Canada. (Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash)

Changes to respective zoning bylaws are how municipalities from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley are readying for pot legalization in Canada. (Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash)

Kootenay politicians move on pot rules

Legalization of cannabis production, retail and usage is set to take effect in Canada on Oct. 17

As with any new Canadian law – like the upcoming legalization of marijuana – there’s sure to be a loophole or two.

So Fruitvale is the latest community to tie up one loose end by taking a proactive measure on what will not be allowed in the neighbourhood.

Last week, council gave the first two readings on a zoning bylaw change which prohibits recreational cannabis dispensaries in residential zones.

In other words, come Oct. 17 when marijuana becomes legal through federal legislation, the distribution of cannabis for any purpose, or in a product form, is banned anywhere Fruitvale specifies as “home occupation.”

Additionally, pot cannot be cultivated for commercial purposes in any residential zone in Fruitvale.

Mayor Patricia Cecchini clarified that in areas zoned commercial, a retailer will have to apply to the province and the village for approval and licence to sell recreational-use products.

As far as smoking in public, Fruitvale’s long standing park regulations bylaw prohibits smoking any form of tobacco or other combustible materials in parks. The government’s Cannabis Control and Licencing Act (Act) clears up any grey areas about lighting up – no matter where a person resides – because it “prohibits cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather; and prohibits the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles.”

As with any bylaw change in local government, council must hold a public hearing before enacting said change. Fruitvale has scheduled its public meeting for Aug. 13.

Montrose has yet to decide what will, or will not, be allowed in the village.

Council deferred the matter until August as members are gathering information and checking what other like-sized towns have chosen to do.

“No one has approached the village, so we haven’t had to jump in yet,” said Mayor Joe Danchuk. “We are looking at what small communities have done, and then we’ll pick what will work best for us.”

Both Trail and Rossland also tackled the issue Monday night during respective council meetings.

After a June 25 public hearing that drew little interest and after gaining ministry approval, Trail council adopted changes to the city’s zoning bylaw to permit cannabis dispensaries in certain areas.

Essentially, when legalized, the retail sale of leisure-use pot will be allowed in four commercially zoned sections located in the Gulch, downtown, East Trail and Waneta. Further, the bylaw stipulates that a 100-meter buffer zone will apply to all schools, daycares and youth facilities in Trail as well as recreational sites like the Trail arena or Aquatic Centre.

Similar to every application for a new liquor licence in the city, each retailer must gain approval from the province then assent from Trail council, before a dispensary can be legally opened.

Rossland residents had one last chance to weigh in on proposed zoning changes, related to future pot dispensaries, during the city’s public hearing Monday night.

Like Trail, no one showed up in person to speak to the change which defines cannabis stores as a separate business as opposed to just a retail operation. This will allow council to develop specific requirements such as a 150-metre buffer zone from schools and youth facilities in the downtown as well as installation of an air filtration system to minimize odour on neighbouring properties.

“As such, the new bylaw regulations regarding cannabis were adopted last night,” Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale confirmed Tuesday.

“We also had engagement activities on this over the past few months with an online survey that received considerable attention,” he clarified. “And we used some of that information to formulate our new Smoke and Vape Free Outdoor Places Bylaw, which was just adopted in June.”