Legalization is slated for October 17. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Legalization is slated for October 17. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trail pot rules ready to roll

The city received one letter of opposition to the impending bylaw change for cannabis sales

With zero opposition – lest one letter – the City of Trail is poised to pass rules for future retailers of recreational pot.

Trail leaders held a public hearing before Monday night council, as part of the required process in any bylaw change. In this case, the city is amending its zoning bylaw to permit non-medical cannabis sales in certain commercial areas.

The fact that no one showed up to voice disapproval, actually spoke volumes to Mayor Mike Martin.

“That tells me that they are either very comfortable with how council is managing this, or they are not that concerned,” Martin told the Times. “I would hope it’s the former and that they are comfortable, because we have discussed this over a number of months now (before) we put the proposed bylaw out.”

Essentially, Trail council opted to use the city’s existing bylaw, but tweak it to permit pot sales in four commercial zones that encompass the Gulch, downtown, East Trail and Waneta Plaza.

Further, the bylaw stipulates that a 100-metre buffer zone would apply to all schools, daycares and youth facilities as well as recreation sites like the Trail arena or Aquatic Centre in East Trail.

Amongst some anecdotal comments, the letter writer asked council to expand the buffer zone to include places like the Riverfront Centre and Selkirk College building.

The panel of five turned down the request after consideration, reasoning that children’s programming is time-limited in those facilities and could vary in the future.

Unlike many other communities, Trail chose not to cap the number of stores allowed. Rather, council will consider each business licence application on a case-by-case basis.

“Quite honestly, I take some comfort in the fact that we’ve carefully deliberated the matter,” Martin said. “And we are putting forward, what I believe, is a solid business case on how to move forward in managing the sale of non-medical marijuana within the community,” he concluded.

“Some other communities are looking at aspects of controlling the number of outlets, which we discussed, and decided to just let the market forces come to play. It’s no different than private liquor stores.”

Final adoption now hinges on approval by the province (Ministry of Transportation).

Jeff Thompson, of Green Cannabis Consulting, has been quietly following what local municipalities have been doing to move forward with cannabis retail.

He has two local offices, one in downtown Trail and another in Castlegar, to help people navigate the cannabis industry via a telemedicine platform.

Thompson attended the minutes-long public meeting in Trail.

“I think the fact that no one showed up is an indication that everyone is quite educated with what is happening October 17, from all the media coverage legalization has received, and are okay with it,” he told the Times.

“I think it is reasonable the way Trail has approached this matter,” Thompson said. “They have followed most municipalities in their regulations and they are completely fair. It is what I expected.”

He says the Castlegar locale seems to have support from the community as does a Green Consulting office in Fort Saskatchewan.

Things haven’t gone as smoothly in the Okanagan, however.

“We have had opposition in Osoyoos for the proposed retail store there,” Thompson explained. “(But) they have not passed any bylaws yet.”

With the business end of pot almost tied up in Trail, locals may be wondering about the rules for smoking joints in public.

Already in the books is the city smoking bylaw, which defines marijuana smoke in terms of limitations.

Trail regulations, like the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (Act), prohibit pot smoking everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping is prohibited, including playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather.

Smoking pot is also banned on school properties and in vehicles.

The Act sets 19 as the provincial minimum age to purchase, sell or consume cannabis, and it allows adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in a public place.

Adults are authorized to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as daycares.