No decision on pot ban yet

Council members in Oliver deferred any decision regarding a temporary ban of selling recreational cannabis — which could carry on after it becomes federally legalized.

Staff had recommended council to ban retail cannabis sales until the town is able to create its own rules on zoning and business regulations, which would involve a public consultation process.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said council discussed the matter at length on Monday.

He said before engaging the public, council wants to see a draft bylaw amendment about zoning, the number of outlets that will be allowed, proximity to playgrounds and schools and other related information.

Oliver council also wants staff to look deeper at how other municipalities are preparing for legalization, Hovanes said, which is currently expected to be on Jul. 1.

"We're getting phone calls from other municipalities about 'how are you handling it?'... Everybody across the nation is being tasked with this, so there should be, I'm guessing, some common and best-practice approaches going forward, so we don't have to invent everything ourselves."

Hovanes said the top priority currently for the town is to make sure no dispensary is currently operating illegally, for more than unlawful reasons. 

"The last thing we want is to have outlets up and running, and then come back at us after (legalization) and say 'you need to grandfather us because we've already been in operation," he said. 

"We just want to make sure we roll this out in a safe and proper way... I think we do need to have a bit more discussion."

Hovanes said he hopes to another report on the topic at the next council meeting on Mar. 26.

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