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City looks to expand retail cannabis zones

The City of Fort St. John is looking to expand its cannabis zoning regulations to allow retailers to operate outside the downtown core.
cannabis

The City of Fort St. John is looking to expand its cannabis zoning regulations to allow retailers to operate outside the downtown core.

The city has been monitoring the roll out of retail cannabis since its legalization in October 2018, with a Jan. 10 report to city councillors noting it has so far had minimal impacts and been "indistinguishable from other forms of retail."

Current rules limit cannabis retailers to the downtown core, however, planners are now seeking council approval to amend the zoning bylaw to permit stores and sales on properties zoned for general or service commercial.

According to the report, neither the city’s bylaw and fire/protective services departments, nor the RCMP have reported issues or seen additional workloads since cannabis was legalized.

The RCMP reported that motorists who have been stopped were "found to be transporting appropriately and were not impaired."

The school district reported no change in its operations or with cannabis-related issues on school campuses, noting "cannabis use in its traditional forms by students or the public on their properties has been non-existent," according to the report.

Provisions requiring 200-metre setbacks from schools and 100 metres from parks would remain, while retailers would still be prohibited from operating in neighbourhood commercial zones, as most of those properties are located close to schools and parks. 

“The main concern heard from the community and Council direction was about safety and locations away from children,” city planner Charlene Jackson writes in the report.

“Opening up the C-3 and C-4 commercial zones for Cannabis Retail sales may help promote economic growth in our community by way of new storefronts and allow Cannabis Retail business entrepreneurs the ability to explore more locations based on the market and desire to provide access to Cannabis retail sales within the City.”

There are currently two private and one provincially-owned cannabis retailers operating downtown, which were generally supportive of expanding the zoning rules.

Read the report to council below:

City of Fort St. John - Cannabis Monitoring Report for 2021 by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd


Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca