Campbell River’s proposed bylaw changes would allow four or five retailers to set up shop in town, but heavy restrictions will be put in place. Black Press File Photo

City of Campbell River proposes pot shop restrictions

City intends to limit retailers to ‘primary service nodes’ and impose buffers from schools

The City of Campbell River has officially proposed its bylaw changes that set out to address the upcoming legalization of cannabis.

At this week’s public meeting, the city gave first and second reading to changes to its zoning, business license, planning procedures, municipal smoking amendment and parks control bylaws in advance of the federal and provincial changes allowing the legal sale of marijuana, expected to come into effect this fall.

The changes to the zoning bylaw – should they be adopted – will allow the city to control where cannabis stores can be located within the city. The changes to the Business License Bylaw would control how those retailers operate and the changes to the Municipal Smoking Regulation and Parks Control Bylaws would restrict where pot can be smoked within city limits.

The proposed change to the city’s zoning bylaw is to add the term “Cannabis Retail Store” to the list of acceptable uses of land within “all primary service nodes in the city,” according to the staff report on the proposed changes. These nodes include Campbellton south of the Campbell River, Merecroft Village, the intersection of Dogwood and 2nd Avenue, Willow Point and Downtown west of Dogwood Street.

The changes to the Business License Bylaw will restrict the proximity of these retailers to both schools and each other, settling on a 200-metre buffer from schools and a 300-metre buffer between retailers.

Staff considered a 300-metre buffer from schools, but found that to be too restrictive, as “there are no areas in Campbell River where a cannabis store could locate.” A 100-metre restriction, however, “did not provide an adequate buffer in many cases.”

The 300-metre buffer between retailers, staff said in their report, “would effectively limit the number of private cannabis retail stores to approximately 4-5 stores across the city.”

But before getting a license to operate, retailers will also be required to show proof they will install a monitored security and alarm system with 24/7 video surveillance, as well as be willing to supply the RCMP with the name, age and address of every employee. They will also be required to update any employment changes with the RCMP within 40 hours.

The changes to the Municipal Smoking Regulations and Parks Control Bylaw, under the proposal, would see the prohibition of pot smoking within any public space, workplace or school, as well as within public parks, treating cannabis consumption similarly to the current restrictions on alcohol consumption.

But before any of this can go into effect, there needs to be public consultation – at least for the zoning bylaw, which requires an official public hearing before any changes can be made official.

But Coun. Charlie Cornfield wanted to hear public feedback on the rest of the changes, as well.

“Is there any opportunity for the public to provide input into those bylaw amendments that do not require a public hearing?” Cornfield asked. “I think it’s important that we have a good sense of what the public sentiment is in regard to those changes and that we get any input we can.”

Kevin Brooks, the city’s development services manager, told Cornfield that staff can request public feedback should council wish, although they hadn’t planned on doing so, because they felt they had a pretty good pulse on how the public feels, “due to the significant amount of response we’ve already received over the past couple of years in regards to cannabis legislation and cannabis within the community.”

Brooks did add, however, that if council wanted feedback before implementing the changes, staff could have “an open-house type process, where we would present the bylaws and allow the general public to question staff in regards to the proposals, and feedback forms or something of that nature would be a standard process.”

And so, staff was directed to prepare a communication strategy surrounding the changes before they go to third and final reading, which will likely include an open house and feedback period.