Council prepares for legalized cannabis

Cannabis retail may soon be a reality in Sun Peaks. Photo Dank Depot.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) council has completed more work in preparation for the federal legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17.

At an Aug. 21 council meeting SPMRM discussed what legalization could look like in the community, which included several recommended changes to existing bylaws. At the meeting staff questioned if council could be over regulating but Mayor Al Raine said in an interview they’re not trying to prohibit it. He added having interested parties apply for rezoning or to open despite restrictions is meant to give council and the public input on any applications.

“For me the important thing is let’s have regulations in place so they have to make pitches to council and include public so members of the community have input.

“That (over regulating) is not the intent, the intent is it’s publically reviewed.”

Raine said he wasn’t sure if all members of council are supportive of retail cannabis in the village but he believes it isn’t his place to say whether or not it should be prohibited.

“My position is the federal government stated it’s intent to legalize cannabis and I don’t think it’s our role to say we’re going to prohibit it.”

He added he’s more concerned about designating smoking areas in the village so neither cannabis nor cigarettes impede anyone’s enjoyment and that safe receptacles are provided.

At the same council meeting changes were made to the Business Licensing and Regulation bylaw to include cannabis retail. It now states the sale of cannabis for medical purposes is not permitted in any zone unless in a pharmacy and retail cannabis will require a business license but excludes the sale of cannabis for medical purposes.

It also outlined retail cannabis will not be permitted within 250 metres of a school, library, park, sports field or daycare.

Councillors discussed if signage should be prohibited but decided to allow it to be equal to bars or liquor stores.

Mayor Al Raine said at the meeting if there were issues with signage they would need to address signs in the village as a whole, something that has been on council’s radar since 2017.

Members debated restricting the opening hours, likely settling on 10 p.m. as the latest a retail cannabis store may be open.

Other recommended changes to the bylaw included requiring retail cannabis stores be equipped with a 24 hour response alarm system and indoor security cameras.

The City of Kamloops’ business licence fee for retails stores was also brought up but council decided to set the fee at $500, the same as a liquor or beer and wine store and $200 less than the maximum fee for a licensed full service restaurant/bar.

Applications will open in October when it’s federally legalized but SPMRM chief administrative officer Rob Bremner said four or five parties have already expressed interest in opening up.

Bremner added the regulations are based off recommendations from higher levels of government and work already done by other communities.

“It’s about what it manifests as for Sun Peaks.”