FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Peace River Regional District Board has voted in favour of putting today’s public hearing into a proposed bylaw that would prohibit the sale of recreational cannabis on pause, and to continue the hearing at the next Regional Board meeting next month.
Since the proposed bylaw passed second reading at a meeting in late July, the Regional District has received feedback from a number of government agencies on the proposed bylaw.
After taking recommendations from Northern Health into account, the proposed bylaw was amended by staff to remove the ban on the sale of items used to consume cannabis, including pipes, bongs, and vaporizers.
The proposed bylaw would still prohibited cannabis sales in all property zones, and that any applications to set up a cannabis retail operation would be looked at by the Board on a case-by-case basis.
The Village of Pouce Coupe’s Corporate Officer Sandy Stokes said that the Village did not approve of the bylaw being implemented in the Pouce Coupe area, and that the Village’s mayor and council would like to talk more about the bylaw.
In another letter, Pouce Coupe’s Chief Administrative Officer Chris Leggett pointed out that a number of municipalities in the PRRD have enacted bylaws permitting cannabis retail operations.
After hearing feedback from two residents at this morning’s hearing, Board Chair Brad Sperling said he found that the bylaw was very broad, and that the wording of the bylaw may have precluded residents from looking at applying to open a cannabis retail business.
“What is the process and what are we sending out to the public as a message that if you read this bylaw and a you want to open a business, how do you proceed?” asked Sperling. “I’m a little troubled about going forward with this bylaw because it doesn’t say anything other than we’re going to shut it down until such time that each applicant comes forward to apply for something. When we have member municipalities that are moving forward with zonings and what you can and cannot do, whereas we’re going to be stuck here with each applicant deciding what they can and cannot do.”
Other directors also expressed concern that, given the size of the Regional District, having only one public hearing about the proposed bylaw might not have been the best course of action.
A motion by Director Karen Goodings to recess the public hearing until the next scheduled Regional Board meeting on October 11th was approved by the Board unanimously.