Nelson council will hold a public hearing on Monday about its intention to disallow recreational cannabis businesses at least until July. It plans to do this through change to its zoning bylaw.
Council decided in December that it wants this moratorium because it does not want anyone opening up a recreational cannabis business in Nelson before federal and provincial rules are made known in the summer, and before council has carried out a public consultation process that will start this month.
This move to regulate recreational cannabis sales is unrelated to the current six medical cannabis dispensaries in the city and will not affect them. The bylaw amendment is aimed at potential recreational cannabis businesses.
Whenever a city council proposes a change to zoning — that is, a change to the purpose for which a property is allowed to be used — it must convene a public hearing at which neighbours and others affected by the change can have their say.
In this case it could be said that the neighbours include everyone in the city, because the proposed zoning change would outlaw recreational cannabis businesses in all zones in the city until July.
Nelson’s approximately two dozen zones designate not only the activities that can be undertaken in each zone but also such things as the size, type, and density of buildings.
At its Dec. 4 meeting, council introduced the amendment to its zoning bylaw and passed first and second reading. Before the third reading a public hearing must be held, as mandated by the provincial Local Government Act.
Residents may attend the hearing to express their opinions, or send in a written submission by mail or email before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the hearing.
Public hearings have a set format. During the hearing, council does not discuss the issue at hand, respond to the submissions, or answer questions. Their job is simply to listen.
Immediately after the hearing, council will vote on a third reading of the bylaw.
The hearing starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
The city has announced that it intends to begin an extensive public consultation process this month to determine what its long-term approach to cannabis sales should be.
“Ultimately, the province will legislate how businesses will operate in the future,” said Mayor Deb Kozak.
“In the meantime, the proposed bylaw places a moratorium on any new businesses opening while giving the broader community a chance to be heard.”