Some B.C. towns not high on pot stores

In Nelson you can get tacos and marijuana in one stop. In Merritt, you may get six RCMP cruisers and a search warrant

Nelson Potorium owner Chris Campbell and her employee Kaleigh Herald pose with some of the products they sell from their Baker Street storefront.

In Nelson there are now a half a dozen marijuana stores, one next to a taco restaurant and another conveniently located beside an auto body shop.

Nelson city manager Kevin Cormack got laughs from his audience with his description of the long-standing acceptance of pot use in the laid-back Kootenay community of 10,000 people. He spoke to a forum at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria, describing a downtown with more bead shops than bars.

But not everyone was laughing.

Merritt city manager Shawn Boven outlined council’s response when a self-proclaimed medical pot dispensary opened its doors this summer, its owners saying they don’t need a business licence for a “compassion club.”

Merritt’s bylaw officer started issuing daily $100 violation tickets, and municipal staff called a meeting with the local RCMP to see what they would do. Five officers turned out and said they would need a couple of weeks to investigate. They would also need legal advice, although everyone agrees retail pot sales remain illegal until next year when the Justin Trudeau government has promised to legalize and regulate it.

Merritt council isn’t engaged in a moral crusade, Boven said. They just want laws evenly enforced, and on Sept. 7 they were. The store was raided and charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking were recommended.

Port Alberni went the regulatory route, requiring dispensaries to stay 1,000 metres apart, outside the main tourist area, and no more than 300 metres from any school. When one violated the limit, it was ticketed and the owners challenged the ticket in court, said Coun. Ron Paulson.

Two days after a judge upheld the Port Alberni bylaw, police executed a search warrant on that store and the owner’s house, where a sawed-off shotgun was among items seized. It’s a reminder of possible gang involvement when “you don’t know where the stuff is coming from,” Paulson said.

Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak clarified that her administration isn’t ignoring dispensaries, where medicines with names such as “Shark Shock” are sold and one store features a poster mocking police. Schools and minors are protected and two stores have been shut down, Kozak said.

Fernie Coun. Jon Levesque said his council isn’t permitting stores until Ottawa sorts out its new regulations, and asked what other communities would suggest to get ready.

Advice included determining whether tourist areas should be allowed, what should be charged for a business licence ($5,000 a year is the consensus) and what if any zoning should be established. Just because a product is legal doesn’t mean a community has to accommodate the business, the forum was told.

 

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Most Read