It’s not difficult to understand the City of White Rock wanting to avoid unregulated cannabis dispensaries and discourage strip clubs within city limits.
But it’s to be hoped that civic leaders will think through – carefully – the ramifications of proposed amendment bylaws intended to address these issues.
With a bylaw (set for a public hearing on Jan. 29) closing the door – for now – to any cannabis dispensary or retail operation, the city is taking a wait-and-see approach in anticipation of the province handing down a regulatory framework for the retail sale of cannabis products, expected to become legal in Canada this summer.
It makes sense for the community to develop a land-use policy for such operations and, until this is done, to prevent businesses from jumping the gun by setting up shop in contravention of existing city bylaws. Yet city leaders must be aware that it is part of a rapidly changing world and that it is choosing to act very late in the day – particularly in light of work already done to banish ‘pothead’ stereotypes and focus on an abundance of health benefits.
It’s in White Rock’s interest to move fast on creating realistic regulations, or risk being viewed as an anti-business backwater, watching impotently on the sidelines while a valid enterprise goes elsewhere.
With new zoning and business bylaw amendments to regulate ‘adult entertainment,’ White Rock could also be preparing to shoot itself in the foot by creating censorship issues where none exist.
Granted staff – by creating zoning hurdles and specifying no-liquor venues – have done a good job of making the stripper/exotic dancer business unattractive for entrepreneurs. But an insistence on a license for ‘adult entertainment’ – coupled with lamentably loose definitions of what that constitutes – could impact existing performance venues, including Coast Capital Playhouse, home of the White Rock Players Club, where recent shows that were clearly not intended for minors and have involved what could be interpreted as “sexually suggestive” performances and full or partial nudity.
Is the city now proposing to introduce a bureaucratic oar into theatre, dance and other performance art?
We’re hopeful the city’s haste in dealing with these mature issues doesn’t indicate an inflexible mindset.