A pot shop at 3050 Allenby Rd. may be the first legal recreational marijuana store in the Cowichan Valley after the province gave the Cowichan Valley Regional District permission to consider the application for the store. Pictured is Sophie Reid, who was the co-owner of the Cowichan Valley Access Centre which operated at the site until last October. (File photo)

Two applications for pot shops in the Cowichan Valley appoved by province so far

Local governments will have last say

Two applications for recreational marijuana shops in the Cowichan Valley have been approved by the province so far and are now before local governments for consideration.

One is in the Municipality of North Cowichan and the other is in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

After a review and background check of the application, the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has given the green light for the CVRD to consider an application for a pot shop at 3050 Allenby Rd. in Electoral Area E.

The site is the former location of the Cowichan Valley Access Centre marijuana dispensary, which closed on Oct. 17 along with the approximately seven other pot shops in the Valley that were operating illegally when recreational pot became legal in Canada.

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Mike Tippett, the CVRD’s manager of community planning, said the site has appropriate zoning for cannabis retailing and the district is publishing a notice in the “CVRD News” section of the paper about it.

“I expect to take the proposed provincial retail licence to the Electoral Area Services Committee shortly after the notice appears in the paper and a week or two has passed for any comments to come into the office,” he said.

North Cowichan has also received one licence referral from the province for a retail marijuana store, and has advised the PLCRB that this licence referral will receive a response once council has determined North Cowichan’s policy framework on pot stores in the municipality.

The municipality has yet to release the address of the site of the application.

To date, North Cowichan has received six site-specific rezoning applications for retail pot shops.

In preparation for when recreational marijuana became legal, North Cowichan’s council also changed its zoning bylaw last summer to prohibit the sale, distribution or trade of cannabis in the municipality.

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North Cowichan now requires that applicants for a retail pot shop must first apply to rezone a particular property, thereby ensuring there is a process for public input and council control over the location and number of stores.

Staff members are in the process of developing a policy framework that will be used to evaluate site-specific rezoning applications for retail marijuana stores, including the one given the green light by the province.

It’s expected that a staff report and a proposed policy framework will be presented to council for consideration in early 2019.

RELATED STORY: HEALTH OFFICERS OFFER POT ADVICE TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

The City of Duncan recently announced it is initiating a new pilot program for applicants for recreational marijuana stores in the city.

Up to three applicants are planned to be considered as part of the pilot project with whom the city will enter into further discussions to determine if they will receive temporary use permits to operate pot shops in Duncan, if the province gives the city the thumbs up to consider them.

Peter de Verteuil, Duncan’s CAO, said the city has received many inquiries into its pilot program already, and expects a lot more interest in the coming weeks.

A statement from the city said that in evaluating the proposals, the city has the “complete, sole, and unfettered discretion” to determine which of the applications are in the best interests of the city’s residents, and to select the preferred proponents on that basis.

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“Proponents should also be aware that if they are identified as a preferred proponent…the submission of a temporary use permit application requires public notification and council approval,” the statement said.

“As such, being identified as a preferred proponent does not guarantee approval of a temporary use permit.”

In preparation for the pilot project, the city has adopted some guiding principles to be considered in determining the location(s), if any, in which it will consider issuing permits authorizing the retail sale of marijuana.

They include that the sale of marijuana is preferred to not be located within 400 metres of another marijuana retail store, 300 metres of any school, 300 metres of any group daycare, 150 metres of any city park, and 50 metres of any land zoned low density residential zone.

“These guiding principles are expected to limit the number of locations where the retail sale of cannabis products would be considered appropriate, but are expected to allow for a number of locations spread throughout the city’s boundaries to meet the needs of the city’s residents,” the statement said.

“It should be noted that at this time, the city may only be considering a very limited number of locations for the retail sale of cannabis products.”

All inquiries to the city must be directed in writing by email to Manager of Planning, at developmentservices@duncan.ca, and must be received by no later than 3 p.m. on Feb. 1.

More information is available on the city’s website at www.duncan.ca.

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