1715 Government Street Victoria, BC V8W 1Z4
Mayor and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
September 7, 2016
Re: Bylaws for Marijuana‐Related Businesses
Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
The federal government made public plans to legalize marijuana and subsequently the Provincial Government will be responsible for providing regulations regarding licensing for its distribution and sale. It would be reasonable to expect that a regulatory framework will be put in place that resembles the current Liquor Distribution and Licensing regulations.
The DRA LUC has reviewed the drafts for the proposed Bylaws for Marijuana related businesses and have made the following observations and recommendations:
• A rezoning bylaw at this point in time that prohibits the sale of marijuana in all zones in preparation for legalization and the establishment of a regulatory framework by senior government would be good public policy;
• Proceeding with rezoning of specific properties or accepting applications for such prior to legalization would be poor public policy;
• Until the Federal Government actually repeals the prohibition, the distribution and sale of Marijuana remains illegal. There is a strong indication that organized crime may be involved with some of these operations and there is currently no regulatory body or framework that administers criminal record checks for the operators;
• Proposed City bylaw may be offside with forthcoming regulations from Province particularly the proposed proximity of 200m;
• Liquor retailers are justifiably subject to proximity rules of 1000m and it is conceivable that this rule would not be different for future Marijuana regulations. The proposed proximity of 200m would adversely effect the Downtown and Harris Green Neighbourhood by allowing a Marijuana retailer on every city block in the East West direction and every second block in the North South direction allowing for a total of well over 25 retailers within this single neighbourhood. The DRA strongly recommends the proposed proximity rules be amended to be more in line with current liquor retail proximity rules;
• DRA members feel uneasy creating a special zoning bylaw that allows this use in perpetuity before provincial regulations are established; and,
• Suggest that zoning bylaw prohibiting the sale of Marijuana be enacted but refrain from rezoning of properties until the Province creates regulations. “Temporary Use Permits”can be issued in the interim to achieve what Council intends until the Province acts.
The DRA recognizes the need for immediately implementing an amendment to the Zoning Regulation Bylaw that provides a definition of “storefront marijuana retailer” and corresponding restrictions on that use so as to not “Grandfather” the current operations contrary to future Provincial regulations. We strongly urge Council not to proceed with the actual rezoning of individual properties until the sale of Marijuana is legal and a regulatory system that includes criminal record checks are in place for the operators.
Ian Sutherland Chair Land Use Committee Downtown Residents Association cc COV Planning