Council pushes back targeted cannabis bylaw date to allow for more public consultation

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Fort St. John City Council has voted in favour of an extended public consultation plan with residents regarding the regulation of cannabis retail operations in the City. 

On Tuesday, councillors voted in favour of extending consultations with residents with the plan to have a bylaw adopted by the beginning of August, and not July 1st as originally requested by Council last week. Mayor Lori Ackerman, who was not present at the Council meeting on May 14th when councillors asked staff to get the bylaw and consultations done by the end of June, pointed out that the federal bill legalizing cannabis, Bill C-45, will only be going through third reading in the Senate on June 7th.

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Even if the Bill passes and gains royal assent, the provinces have told the federal government they would need 8 to 12 weeks to allow for a smooth transition to legalized cannabis.

The plan as presented would have meant the launch of the City’s online consultation on Wednesday, May 23rd, with two Dotmocracy engagement meetings being held this week. Ackerman said that postponing the targeted date of the City’s proposed bylaws and rules will allow the City to not rush the public consultation process, especially one that discusses such an important change.

The resolution as passed by Council did also add that the City would take feedback from residents on locations in Fort St. John where smoking of cannabis could be banned.

As announced by the provincial government, smoking or vaping of recreational cannabis would be allowed anywhere tobacco and e-cigarettes are currently allowed. Those rules also say that smoking cannabis would not allowed anywhere children would reasonably be expected to be, including near parks, schools, playgrounds, or beaches.

The City will also be getting feedback from the RCMP, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Northern Health, and School Districts about allowed locations for cannabis retail operations.

Council also voted down the first draft of a proposed bylaw, deciding to wait until the end of the public consultation process, which should be starting some time next month. The City says that dates for public consultations will announced in the near future.

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