Charlotte council wants marijuana start-ups to wait for community guidelines

Queen Charlotte council wants any local marijuana start-ups to wait until the village is ready.

Queen Charlotte council wants local marijuana start-ups to wait until the village is ready.

On Monday, councillors gave first reading of a new zoning bylaw that would prohibit marijuana businesses in the village.

“It’s mainly just because we need to slow things down so that when things are legalized, we can set up the right bylaws,” said Lori Wiedeman, chief administrative officer for the village.

This spring, Ottawa is expected to introduce legislation that will slowly legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Canada.

At the same time, the Village of Queen Charlotte is planning public meetings in April where residents can review the village’s official community plan.

One of the issues that will be on the table is where and how any local marijuana-based business might run.

“It’s coming into effect, and if we don’t have specific zoning in place, they can pop up anywhere,” said Councillor Richard Decembrini, noting that unregulated marijuana start-ups have caught other B.C. municipalities such as Vancouver off-guard.

“There will be a public consultation period, and we can discuss as a community how this will enter our space,” said Councillor Sabrina Frazier, who stood in as acting mayor at the meeting.

Several people attended Monday night’s council meeting after reading an Observer Facebook post that listed the new bylaw prohibitions, but did not explain why they are being considered.

Councillors decided not to pass the new bylaw right away so people have more time to learn about it.

“We are aware that there will be some questions asked, so we’re doing it slower by doing it one reading at a time,” said Councillor Ellen Foster.

Wiedeman said the village has already heard from people in Queen Charlotte who are interested in doing marijuana-based business.

Even before the new federal rules come into effect, she said the village could grant them a temporary-use permit, so long as they meet community guidelines. The new bylaw is mainly intended to stop any unapproved operations from starting now and getting ‘grandfathered’ later when the federal rules eventually change.

“We felt that now is the time to put the brakes on, and we’ll find out what people want to do.”