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

RCMP urge caution for back to school drivers

Police are asking drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians

Traffic accident on Highway 1

Hour long backup from Abbotsford to Langley

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

Speth to take oath of office at special school board meeting

Speth is the newest trustee to join Fraser Cascade school district

Sts’ailes invites adults to become engaged in Halq’eméylem with new video series

‘Qw’oqwel te Qw’oqwel’ gives language learners an immersive way to learn Halq’eméylem

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Memorial to deceased teen stays in place through Labour Day

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Walnut Grove skate park

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

Most Read