Saanich council signaled its support for a new regime regulating the sale of recreational marijuana.
Staff will now prepare bylaw revisions that will pave the way for recreational marijuana sales in 18 selected locations around the municipality that already permit liquor sales. The revisions will then go to a public hearing after having received first reading.
Staff will also bring forward a report outlining conditions that could guide council’s decision in approving site-specific applications for recreational pot outlets.
Mayor Fred Haynes called Saanich’s planning approach “cautious” but also “rigorous.”
Monday’s long-awaited report detailing Saanich’s approach towards the sale of recreational marijuana drew little public input, but saw support from a representative of the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch responsible for the licensing of cannabis stores and Elyse Norgaard Kituri, a spokesperson for Anthem Properties, which recently purchased Tillicum Centre.
But if Kituri generally supported the staff recommendation, she questioned one of the proposed conditions for receiving a business licence to operate a recreational pot shop.
It states that any future outlet should be at least 200 metres away from the closest lot line of an elementary, middle, or secondary school; or a playground; or community recreation centre. The centre — which includes a private liquor store — lies within a stone’s throw of Pearkes Recreation Centre.
“We feel that this buffer unfairly penalizes properties where liquor stores are currently operating,” she said.
Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, said she does not know how many of the 18 locations would be subject to this buffer, but promised to include that information for council’s consideration before any public hearing, as part of a review.
(By way of clarification, the Saanich News originally reported that 16 locations would be eligible for pot retail, if Saanich were to go ahead with these changes. The original number, however, should have been 17 as Saanich’s list includes a double-entry. Saanich council Monday also approved the selling of liquor at a Wilkinson Road property, bringing up the number to 18).