By ROY WOOD
As Osoyoos council inches toward policy decisions on marijuana retailing, it is clear that every applicant will have to appear before council to seek approval to open a store.
On Monday, council will consider a report and draft policy from planning director Gina MacKay that would codify council’s preference for so-called “site-specific” zoning for cannabis sales.
General zoning rules simply allow certain types of businesses to operate in one or more of the town’s three commercial zones under various pre-set conditions. Site-specific zoning requires a particular type of business, in this case marijuana retailing, to appear before council to answer questions and to submit to a public hearing as part of the application process.
At meetings in July, council passed resolutions in support of private retail sale of recreational cannabis in the town and directing staff to prepare policy options for implementing site-specific zoning.
At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, council will consider he draft policy that provides “general guidelines to assist in consideration of applications to re-zone a property in order to accommodate a cannabis retail sales outlet.”
Considerations that council would make under the policy include:
- Proximity to Osoyoos Elementary School. Much of the area covered by the C1 (downtown) commercial zone lies within 200 metres of the school. Consideration would be given to whether children would pass the proposed location on the way to and from school.
- Proximity to day care centres and the like. Consideration of the distance between sites visited by children and the proposed location.
- Proximity to residential uses. Will the proposed location disturb residential use, including the introduction of increased traffic and noise?
- Main Street locations. What will be the possible impact of a proposed location on adjacent businesses? Consideration of the Official Community Plan policies, which identify Main Street as a major attraction for tourists and residents.
- Access, egress and parking. Consideration if increased traffic flow to and from the site can be accommodated. Are there opportunities for on-site parking, including for staff.
- Visibility from tourist routes. Consideration of whether the site is highly visible to tourist traffic.
- Sampling the product. Consideration whether the proposed site “provides an area to sample the products without contravening the good neighbour bylaw.”
Although council has indicated that it won’t be rushed into hasty decisions around the issue, the federal government has announced that the possession and sale of recreational pot will become legal on October 17.