While the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada is now less than a month away, it could be a lot longer before residents in Pitt Meadows see any retail cannabis stores in their community.
This week city council gave a first and second reading to a bylaw that would ban such businesses from operating in the city.
“I’m in no rush to look at retail cannabis,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker. “There are a lot of things that are legal that we decide we don’t want in our community: pawn shops, payday loans, and cannabis dispensaries.”
Becker noted that cannabis is available to residents in a very close radius, thanks in a large part to the neighbouring community of Maple Ridge.
“Maple Ridge is going to be moving on that very quickly and is 10 minutes away,” he said. “I’m happy to have other communities make all the mistake for the next 18 or 24 months.”
After that, he said, “if we want to go down that road fine, then we can pick some best practices, but as far as I’m concerned with October 17, it’s hurry up and wait.”
Not all councillors shared Becker’s point of view, however.
Councillor Bill Dingwall said he’s not opposed to government-run retail outlets, primarily because “the federal government legalized marijuana – there is no prohibition now in Canada now and no criminality attached to it.”
As such, Dingwall noted that if every community in the Lower Mainland banned the retail sale of cannabis, “then that flies in the face of our federal government.”
Having a government-run retail outlet, he added, “provides some quality control of the product, some security, such as checking ID, like they do with government liquor stores.”
A public hearing regarding the bylaw is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, October 2.
The Fraser Valley community isn’t the first Metro Vancouver community to push for the prohibition of pot shops.
Earlier this year, both the City of North Vancouver and the City of West Vancouver voted to ban retail cannabis dispensaries.