Cloud Nine dispensary on Fort Street is one of a handful of cannabis retailers that have successfully completed rezoning with the City of Victoria and is in the process of being granted a business licence. It is in the minority of the 35 or so shops operating in the city, which have been subject to a separate city bylaw since September 2016. A staff report to be discussed by city councillors this week indicates that cannabis-related operations have been fined a total of $24,000 for non-compliance, with the majority of tickets issued for operating without a business licence. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Enforcement of Victoria’s cannabis bylaws taking more city staff time than expected

Councillor hopes province, feds take on enforcement role in 2018

Enforcement of existing city bylaws is no walk in the park when it comes to marijuana dispensaries, especially given the lack of federal legislation or even guidance on the matter.

Victoria councillors will hear more this Thursday from city staff working in the field, when committee of the whole discusses an enforcement progress report relating to cannabis-related businesses. In total, $24,000 in fines have so far been handed out to dispensaries for non-compliance, $15,000 of which – 15 fines of $1,000 – has been levied under the city’s cannabis bylaw for operating without a valid business licence.

“I don’t think anybody thought it would take as long as it has to get these [federal] policies in place,” said Coun. Margaret Lucas, whose co-sponsored motion to extend the minimum distance between dispensaries to 400 metres, from the previous 200 was passed by council July 6.

“I think a lot of businesses tried to jump the gun to get in first. They just popped up everywhere, in anticipation of the federal government coming down with their policies.”

By way of comparison, Lucas reiterated her experience with changes to the rules and location criteria for liquor retail stores. Municipal input and knowledge of day-to-day operations helped shape the eventual provincial regulations.

The second-most frequent cannabis bylaw infraction listed in the report, with eight $500 tickets issued, was for allowing consumption of product on the premises, while four operators were ticketed $250 under the city’s sign bylaw for not obtaining a permit for their sign.

The report also states that since the city adopted its cannabis bylaw, the time taken by staff to enforce it has exceeded the allotted 35 hours a week. Once all cannabis retailers have gone through the rezoning process, which is expected to cut in half the number that are operating, staff predict the enforcement hours will also fall to within the 35 hours.

Currently only four retailers have received rezoning approval, although only one has yet to receive a business licence. Six applications are ready to go to public hearing and another 23 are working their way through the process.

“I think the biggest thing, is that compliance [enforcement] has to be given to another level,” Lucas said of the long-term picture. “That is not under the purview of the municipality. We don’t have the financial capacity, when this eventually comes down, to be hiring bylaw officers to be overseeing it. It needs to be administered and overseen by inspectors at the provincial or federal level.”

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Art takes a personal tone during the 110th anniversary of the Victoria Sketch Club

The 47th annual art show is taking place until March 24

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps hires new chief of staff

Alison James will take over as head of strategy and operations on April 23

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

Most Read