The District of Lake Country is ready to start dealing with applications for cannabis retail stores—once the drug becomes legal in Canada later this month.
Council has approved a zoning amendment and a business licensing bylaw to allow stores to operate in the district.
Applicants will be required to get a provincial licence as well to operate.
According to Lake Country’s community development manager Jamie McEwan, the move culminates months of work by district staff to prepare for the legalization of recreational cannabis, which will kick in nation-wide Oct. 17.
He estimated that, in the last six months, one-quarter of his time has been spent dealing with the issue of cannabis retail stores.
Lake Country’s rules allow an unlimited number of stores in two areas of the district—the town centre and the Turtle Bay Crossing area—and require all stores to be located at least 400 metres from a daycare or a school.
An original proposed requirement that stores be located at least one kilometre from each other was dropped by council prior to finalization of the rules which now allow them to be located as close as side-by-side.
McEwan said with no buffer between stores, there will be many opportunities for prospective cannabis retailers, as long as they fit in with the other rules and are approved by both the city and the province.
Part of the process is a provincially-mandated public consultation for each application to be considered by council.
The information gathered from the public—through events expected to be similar to public hearings—will not only be used by council in making its decision, but will also be forwarded to the province.
McEwan said the district’s location and business licence approvals, and the province’s licence approval, could be worked on simultaneously.
Like the neighbouring City of Kelowna, whose planning staff have warned they expect hundreds of applications for retail cannabis stores, McEwan said he also expects his department to to be busy handling applications.
But unlike Kelowna, which will appoint a nine-member committee made up of city staff and law enforcement officials to vet applications before passing them onto the planing department and council, Lake Country will leave that work up to planning department staff and also rely on vetting to be done by the province.
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