Creston Town Council adopted a bylaw amendment on Tuesday that paves the way for retail sales of cannabis and related products in designated areas within town.
“I wouldn’t say Council is overly excited about the legalization of recreational cannabis, but it’s a reality that we have had to deal with in today’s world,” Mayor Ron Toyota said on Tuesday.
The ball now goes back to the Province of British Columbia’s court, where the government must issue retail licences before municipal business licences can be processed.
Asked whether either level of government intends to restrict numbers of such businesses operating in town, Toyota said he didn’t think the province had any intention of doing so.
“And we certainly aren’t—they will be treated like any other business in Creston. We have a free market economy that will determine how many can survive.
“Some communities have decided not to allow such businesses within their bylaws, but it is now a legal substance and we don’t want to push customers out of town, where they might do other shopping as well.”
Toyota pointed out that an extensive citizen survey was conducted last year, and Town Council and staff took direction from the results.
The cannabis portion of the zoning bylaws does restrict such businesses from operating within 150 metres of several defined park and education areas, including Adam Robertson Elementary School, Prince Charles Secondary School, Creston Education Centre, Schikurski Park, Centennial Park, Creston & District Community Complex, Burns Park, Millennium Park and Dodd’s Creek Park.
With only a small handful of licences having been approved by the provincial government to this point, Toyota said he doesn’t expect a flood of approvals for Creston applicants in the near future, though several potential operators have expressed their intent to apply.
Existing cannabis paraphernalia storefronts in Creston are not licensed to sell recreational cannabis products and their existence does not give them preference in the licensing process.
Toyota added that Creston bylaw enforcement is primarily a complaint-driven system and to date, no complaints have been received about the existing businesses.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Currie said on Monday that the RCMP “have not been actively checking on any retail outlets.”