Cannabis sales worry rural officials

North Okanagan electoral areas debate marijuana sales

Like other communities, the North Okanagan’s rural areas aren’t sure how to handle pot shops.

Members of the Electoral Area Advisory Committee are debating the pending legalization of recreational marijuana.

“We don’t know which way it’s going. Staff will provide another report so we can look at it further,” said Herman Halvorson, EAAC chairperson and rural Enderby director.

Federally, non-medicinal cannabis will become legal in July 2018, and the provincial government will regulate the distribution and sale of the product.

One of the issues to be sorted out is the location of cannabis outlets, such as next to schools.

“It’s something we will have to get our hands around,” said Halvorson.

While there aren’t many commercial cores in the electoral areas, there are numerous home-based businesses and it’s not known if they could contain cannabis sales.

“We’re in a difficult position. Until the province develops a plan, it’s difficult to craft bylaws,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.

Unlike municipalities, rural areas have limited resources when it comes to enforcement.

“We have one bylaw officer to cover all of the (five) electoral areas,” said Fleming.

Recently, the City of Vernon raised a number of concerns about legalization of cannabis.

“There is potential for a considerable impact to municipal resources, depending on the distribution and sales model ultimately identified. The most impacted services are likely to include bylaw compliance, building and licensing, planning, fire services and the RCMP,” states a city staff report.

To ease some of the financial pressures, the city wants a share of the revenue related to cannabis taxation.

Legislation would also allow people to grow up to four cannabis plants with a maximum height of 100 centimetres.

“Administration’s primary concern is the potential impact on adjacent residents, especially in multi-family dwellings like row houses or apartments. Administration believes it is important that local government have the authority to regulate this use,” states the report.

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