Lake Cowichan council has decided to draft a policy for consideration by residents that would govern where cannabis shops can set up in town.
Such a policy, which would include the idea of issuing temporary use permits, would regulate applications for cannabis retail stores as they come through the door at the town office, CAO Joe Fernandez told the mayor and council Oct. 8.
At present, there is no retail cannabis store in the works in Lake Cowichan, and Fernandez told council at their finance committee meeting last Wednesday that the single application that had come in to the town office for consideration has now been withdrawn completely.
“I don’t think that limits the applicant,” said Coun. Tim McGonigle. “If we think about rezoning, would there be a cost for it?”
Council has the following options available to it with regard to the retail sale of cannabis:
1. Legislation through the zoning bylaw to allow cannabis sales in certain commercial zones or at site specific locations through zoning amendment applications or to altogether prohibit cannabis retail sales in any zone, unless expressly permitted, as the current bylaw stipulates, or
2. Through the use of temporary use permits (TUPs), which is permitted under the Local Government Act and the Land Use Bylaw. As the maximum term for a TUP is six years (three years with a single extension of three more years), this may allow the town to determine whether retail sales are a good fit for the community and if a location or locations are deemed suitable.
In addition, the establishment of a policy on cannabis sales that may establish guidelines should the TUP route be taken, or for a zoning bylaw amendment, should be considered.
The District of Sooke calls for a minimum distance of 300 metres from school properties, but no minimum from parks with playgrounds, licensed daycares, and community facilities; and for a size limit of 464 square metres. The City of Duncan is a bit more restrictive than that on location, particularly mentioning that they be “50 metres from any land zoned low density residential.”