West Vancouver votes to ban retail cannabis dispensaries

Jul 18 2018, 3:42 am

In a move that was dubbed “prohibition light” by the city’s Director of Planning Jim Bailey, West Vancouver City Council voted unanimously on Monday night to ban retail pot shops in the community once cannabis is legalized, unless those seeking to set up such businesses apply for a rezoning application.

“It is a more cautionary approach,” said Bailey. “I think the word ‘prohibition’ is catching on, but it’s a little bit harsh.”

Instead, Bailey said he believes “it’s about being cautionary, working with folks, moving forward to get the right policies, so we know how far we need to be from schools, or how many facilities we might want in a town centre like Ambleside, and developing those police and criteria thoughtfully with the folks in this community.”

Bailey added that the law is clear and noted that on October 17, retail cannabis sales will be permitted in Canada.

“If you adopt these bylaws, retail sales will not be permitted ‘by right’ in West Vancouver,” he emphasized. “You could consider them through rezoning applications, but ‘by right,’ they would not be permitted.”

Bailey said he’s also like to see conversations on the subject take place with other municipalities on the North Shore, as “our geographies are very linked,” and West Vancouver isn’t the only community on the North Shore that has decided to prohibit retail cannabis sales.

In early June of this year, the City of North Vancouver also voted to officially ban retail cannabis sales within its borders by a vote of 5-1.

The decision was made after three motions were carried under the agenda item: Cannabis Regulation: Zoning and Business Licence Bylaw Amendments.

The three motions were all with the intention to “to prohibit non-medicinal cannabis production and sales in the city.”

The vote took place during a regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday night, with Acting Mayor Rod Clark casting the only opposition vote.

And in late 2017, Richmond City Council unanimously voted to send a letter of opposition to both the provincial and federal governments on the subject of cannabis legalization.

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