By Lyonel Doherty
The Town of Oliver is getting ready for cannabis legalization by reviewing application procedures and fees associated to retail sales.
Recently, council gave staff the green light to initiate amendments to the Land Use Procedures Bylaw and Fees and Charges Bylaw. This will prepare the Town when it comes time to charge fees for provincial referrals relating to the retail sale of cannabis.
Contract planner Chris Garrish said the process being established by the renamed Liquor and Cannabis Regulations Branch for marijuana licencing is very similar to that used for liquor licence applications.
But there’s one big exception: Currently, council has latitude with liquor applications to not comment on them without negatively impacting the outcome. However, this will not be the case with referrals for cannabis licences. For example, if council decides not to provide comment on a retail marijuana application, the liquor board will deem that application denied by the Town and therefore will not issue a licence, Garrish said.
The Town of Oliver has already determined to permit cannabis retail sales in the Town Centre and Highway Commercial zones.
The planner said any recommendation by council in support of a specific application requires a public consultation process. This would take the form of written comments, a public hearing or a referendum.
Due to the level of notification being proposed, Town staff recommend that fees for a cannabis store referral be set at $1,500, with a refund based on the level of consultation. For example, $1,000 refund if no consultation is undertaken.
Councillor Dave Mattes said he didn’t think a public hearing should be necessary because council doesn’t conduct them for any new business opening up in town.
It was commented that council should keep business relations simple by not adding another level of bureaucracy.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger wanted assurance that applicants will undergo a criminal record check prior to obtaining a licence.
Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said all applicants will undergo this screening.