Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Prince Rupert plans for Pot Shop Prohibition for one year

The prospect of any commercial marijuana operations setting up shop in Prince Rupert could be at least one year down the road following Monday's City Council session, which set in motion plans for a zoning prohibition to allow the city time to consider its options.

As we noted back on Friday, the proposed prohibition for Prince Rupert comes as the city awaits the introduction of legislation towards legalization of marijuana by the Federal government, something that is expected sometime in the spring.

To begin their review of the process ahead, Council heard a report from Hans Seidemann the City's  Civic Engineer and Manager of Community Development, who provided the background to the discussion on Monday evening, with Mr. Seidemann outlining a number of themes related to the issue.

He first provided some history to the current Federal process towards legalization process and then outlined some of the areas of concern for the city related to the interim period, recommending to Council the one year prohibition on zoning for all areas of the city that would prohibit any commercial operation from opening an establishment in the city.

For the most part his report seemed to offer up the prospect of allowing the City a one year period to get a better understanding of the ramifications of any legalization of marijuana, providing the City the time to craft proper policy and zoning requirements for the start up of any commercial industry.

Following his report, Councillors Niesh, Cunningham, Mirau and Thorkelson all offered up some thoughts on the theme, at times asking for some clarification on the impact to the city from whatever course of action they chose to move forward with.

Councillor Niesh observed how the city's plan was a matter of protecting the city.

"It's not a matter of  saying No we're not going to do this, or Yes we are, it's just a matter of having an interim stop until it's legalized ... How can you make rules on something that is illegal, I really do think that this is a good first step to stop anyone from just doing whatever they want, and allowing the government to come up with their policies and from those policies we can then develop our own policies " 

Council members also noted that the public will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on the proposed prohibition at the January 23rd Council session, when the council members will allow for public feedback on the issue.

Mayor Brain seemed to capture the mood of Council as he brought the discussion to an end, providing a glimpse into the main focus for how Council plans to move forward on the issue.

"If we're going to do this, I think we do it once, right. And this will give us the time as Mr. Seidemann says to let the Federal government figure out what exactly is the framework here and from there we can research what every other community is doing, what are the business licensing options, what are the regulation options for us and come up with a whole variety of things that we can look at here at the City" 

Mr. Brain also observed that with the one year prohibition in place the City would be able to take their time to decide their approach to the issue.

"As a city who's going to end up being at the front lines of these things it's best we take the time do it properly, do it well researched and when this becomes legal and we pass something, it's something that the community is into and we know is the right options and is done responsibly"

You can review the full report to council from the City's Agenda package from Monday, it's available on page 41 of the documents for the night.

An expanded look at the Council discussion can be found on our Council Timeline feature.

As well, you can watch Council offer up their thoughts on the issue from the City's Video Archive, the topic is addressed at the 26 minute point.

More background on City Council issues and notes can be reviewed from our City Council Discussion Archive page.

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