Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Council's Park Avenue Addition to the Cannibis Retail map meets with some resistance from area property owners

Mr. Terry Sawka, one of a number of participants in Monday evening's
Public Hearing on the city's plans for Commercial cannabis operations in the community

Monday night's Public Hearing wasn't a case of clear sailing for the city's ambitions to start collecting revenue on cannabis retail operations in the city, though the concerns of a pair of Park Avenue property owners did not seem to have too large of an impact on their final decision of the Monday Council Session.

The Monday night approval process was one which was introduced a number of times through a range of elements, from a Public Hearing, through Zoning amendments, as well as the introduction of a new city policy on cannabis and changes to the city's Trade and Business process.

The Public Hearing got everything underway on Monday, with Mr. Zeno Krekic, the City Planner providing for a review of the land use regulations required for the zoning bylaw under consideration. He outlined some notes on the public meeting of mid November and the recommendations for areas of the city that the Council is considering.

David Shank Regional Manager of Hive Cannabis speaking to Council on
Monday evening on the city's proposed commercial plans

Five members of the public gallery participated in the public comment period, three residents of the city and two representatives (David Shank and Darian Corke  of the national commercial cannabis organization Hive Cannabis, the pair appear to have been in the city exploring options for retail operations in the community. 

They outlined the nature of their business and how they approach their business plan and interact with the communities that they currently serve through medicinal marijuana operations, as well as through their expansion plans currently underway.

The main thrust of their contribution was to note that with a more legislated approach to sales the illicit market will be reduced, they also stressed the approach of bringing education to the markets that they wish to locate in.

They also highlighted the benefits that their plan would bring to the community and how it offers the city of Prince Rupert a chance to move forward on the issue. 

The inclusion of Park Avenue and Five Corners (left) to the zoning plans
for potential commercial cannabis development proved to be a controversial
element of Monday's Public Hearing

Three residents also spoke at the Public Hearing, with Mr. Terry Sawka and Mr. John Marogna  outlining a number of concerns that they have with the city's late addition of Park Avenue as a potential area for commercial operations.  

Mr. Sawka made note of the many changes that he has seen on Park Avenue since 1964, adding that he has owned property on the street since 1972 and how he does not believe that the rezoning for commercial cannabis is something that the city should consider for the area. 

He reminded council of some of the challenges that the area sees, from the issues related to the Raffles Inn which is nearby, as well as the increased traffic that the street has seen. He also expressed concerns about possible depreciation of his property values should the area be rezoned for commercial cannabis sales.

Mr. Marogna who noted he owns a number of properties in the area, also had some strong opinions about the prospect of a cannabis operation, first expressing his opinion on the theme of drug use and his concerns over the introduction of any drug sales into the area. He also called into question the city's approach to sharing information on the nature of changing the zoning, noting that he had not been approached by any city official related to the planned zoning change.

He suggested to Council that just putting an ad in the paper is not enough and how those property in the immediate area should be provided with a better delivery of information from the city.

Dustin Woodman also spoke to the issue and offered up his opinion in favour of the approach that the city is taking towards its zoning plans for the commercial options that will be made available to the community. He observed how the commercial option will provide for a safer environment and how there is a need to take out any moral judgments when it comes to viewing the issue.

With no other members of the gallery coming forward, the Mayor then brought the Public Hearing to an end.

During the course of the Regular Council session a number of elements related to the Cannabis regulations took place, with a report from the City's communication director introducing the new policies that will be in place by the City.

(See the Agenda package for the full outline)

Councillor Niesh speaking to his decision to approve the commercial zoning
plans for the downtown area and Park Avenue

As for the zoning bylaw, council moved to accept the two zones both in the downtown core and the add on area along Park, with two council members providing some background toward their decision to accept the two zones.

Councillor Niesh led off the discussion to the topic, making note of the public engagement session held in November and how some interest had been shown into adding Park Avenue to the area under consideration for the zoning amendment. He noted how each individual property owner in the city has the option to decide what kind of business that they can host in their building.

Councillor Mirau echoed what Mr. Niesh had said and called attention to some of the concerns of those in the Public Hearing about the gaps in the notification process. He also spoke to the issue of legalization and how the prohibition of the past had failed and observed to the process that the city council and staff have taken towards consultation on the introduction of the retail zone in the core area of the city, adding how he was in favour of the amendment as it stands.

The final stage of Monday's work on the cannabis process came from the City Manager Robert Long, who reviewed the background to two amendments to the Trade and Business bylaws.

Mr. Long observed that the amendments set the fees for business proponents of 5000 dollars and 2500 dollars after that. As well,  the  modifications will provide for the applicable definitions, Council will require a public meeting to discuss and then adopt the new regulations.

You can review the full roll out of those amendments from the City's Agenda.

Council then voted to approve the bylaw and then to set Wednesday, December 12th as the date for the Public meeting at 5PM and then to host a Special Council meeting following to adopt the bylaw.

Agenda for Special Council session for December 12

Once council meets this evening, the final stages will be set for would be applicant to begin their process of setting up cannabis retail operations in the community you can follow the themes of the night from our City Council Timeline feature.

The times for each element provide your guide as to where to find the conversation on cannabis from the Video Archive of Monday evenings session.

For more notes related to the Monday council session see our Session Archive page here.

A wider overview of Council Discussion themes is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment