Council considers bylaw changes to accommodate cannabis industry

With Williams Lake mayor and council wanting to open the doors to federally-licensed cannabis facilities, they will have to amend some of the city’s zoning rules

City council is amending its zoning bylaws to allow for production and distribution of cannabis within city limits.

At Tuesday’s committee of the whole, the City’s director of development services Leah Hartley, shared some options with council.

They include permitting commercial marijuana distribution and production on parcels of land that are 10 or more acres in size and to increase setbacks from property lines.

Council decided there should not be a specific size of land required.

To amend the zoning bylaw to permit cannabis production in heavy industrial zones and amend city zoning bylaw to permit cannabis distribution in any zone that permits warehouse use.

Council agreed all cannabis facilities will have to be at least 500 metres from all schools and daycares.

Hartley said the provincial and federal governments have stipulated that commercial production facilities must be licensed federally and meet established standards of security, including site fencing and restricted entry to the facilities.

Council agreed the areas of the city preferred are the industrial area on North Mackenzie Avenue and the airport lands.

“From what we have heard, I think the public thinks the same way,” Coun. Scott Nelson said.

Odor control is considered the key determinant affecting production compatibility with adjacent properties, Hartley added, noting 24-hour lighting and perimeter fencing may also be considered intrusive to neighbours.

Council also agreed with Coun. Jason Ryll’s motion that establishments will have to be one kilometre apart.

Staff will now draft a bylaw within three weeks so council can take it to the public for feedback.

Mayor Walt Cobb said he has been told it is best to have something in place even before cannabis is legalized.

“It is good to be more stringent too because we can always amend the bylaws later,” Cobb said.

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