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City releases results of cannabis retail consultation

A cannabis dispensary in Colorado. Photo by Vice
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has released the agenda for next Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, which includes the results it gathered from residents to hear their thoughts on what regulations cannabis retail operations would need to adhere to after recreational cannabis becomes legal this fall.

The City’s Development Director Ken Rogers will be giving a presentation to Council about the feedback the City gathered during a pair of Dot-mocracy events with residents and on its ‘Let’s Talk’ website during the last week in May and first week in June. According to Rogers, over 700 responses were received in the online campaign, with more than 100 more responses given in person during the Dot-mocracy events.

Residents were largely supportive of the City allowing cannabis retail operations to set up shop in most commercial zones, with the overwhelming majority favouring the C-2 Downtown Core and C-3 General Commercial zones. 73 percent of residents favoured the City adopting a 200-metre buffer zone from all schools within the City, while feelings were more mixed about the buffer zone from parks. A slim majority – 52 percent – preferred a 200-metre buffer around all City parks, while 48 percent felt that a buffer of 100 m or less was sufficient.

When it comes to how far cannabis retail stores need to be from each other, residents were again fairly split on the issue. 47 percent of respondents felt that at least 200 metres of separation was required, while 36 percent felt that no buffer zone between cannabis retail stores was needed. Overall, 53 percent of residents desired a buffer zone of 100 metres or less.

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The City also asked residents about their thoughts on where cannabis would be able to be consumed, and if the provincial legislation was adequate.  The provincial government announced earlier this year that cannabis smoking or vaping would be permitted anywhere the smoking of tobacco is currently permitted, with the exception of places where children would reasonably be expected to be present, such as schools, parks, playgrounds, or beaches. An overwhelming majority of Fort St. John residents – 83 percent – said they felt the provincial legislation was adequate.

In his presentation, Rogers says that the next steps are for City staff to prepare a presentation to Council to discuss a proposed Zoning Amendment Bylaw before the Bylaw itself is drafted. A public hearing will also be held before the bylaw is officially adopted by the City.

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The presentation can be found here: https://fortstjohn.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/83455?preview=88441&attachmenturl=%2FFileStorage%2F6791AA111EB0496DB9C87ECE2C056458-Presentation%2520-%2520Cannabis%2520Consultation%2520Results.pdf

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