VOP council gives green light to first retail cannabis store 

Council briefs: Cannabis production moratorium; washroom closure; remembering Bill Reynolds

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Decision time Village of Pemberton council opted to support its first cannabis store proposal at its Dec. 11 regular council meeting.
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • Decision time Village of Pemberton council opted to support its first cannabis store proposal at its Dec. 11 regular council meeting.

After a short delay, the Village of Pemberton (VOP) council has decided to throw its support behind a cannabis store application from the owners of the Pemberton Hotel and Prospect Pub.

The application is now with the province, which will have final say on whether or not the proposal goes forward.

The proponents had anticipated a decision at the Nov. 27 council meeting, but VOP council decided to delay making one in order to give its newly elected councillors more time to study its retail cannabis policy. Since the Nov. 27 meting the VOP received 16 pieces of correspondence in support and seven against the proposal.

The motion of support—made at the Dec. 11 regular council meeting—received the support of Mayor Mike Richman, and Councillors Leah Noble and Ryan Zant (Coun. Ted Craddock was absent for the vote).

The only dissenting vote came from Coun. Amica Antonelli,

who said the VOP should place a three-year moratorium on reviewing recreational cannabis applications and restrict cannabis sales to Pemberton's industrial park.

"I would like to see a three-year moratorium on reviewing cannabis licences until we have a chance to review the impacts of legal cannabis on B.C.'s communities and update our policies," said Antonelli.

"In summary, I don't support the current application due to the location and public comments."

Following the meeting, VOP Mayor Mike Richman said that it is not unusual for a proposal to draw more attention than policy development. "Now that an application has come through it becomes more real, and that sparked a lot of community dialogue," he said.

In speaking to residents, Richman said he believes that a majority of people appear to be in favour of the VOP's retail cannabis policy.

"But it's definitely cause for concern for some, and it's a new reality, so it's going to take some adapting to," said Richman.

Richman said that the application meets the criteria set out by the Village and therefore merits support.

"It was felt that the application falls in line with all of the criteria put out in our policy surrounding retail cannabis, and therefore—as that policy was developed recently—the application was supported," he explained.

With council's support, the proposal will be further reviewed by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the provincial agency that ultimately grants retail cannabis licences.

Cannabis production moratorium

In other Cannabis-related news at the Dec. 11 meeting, council decided to pass a moratorium on new cannabis production facilities in the industrial park.

In explaining the reason for the moratorium, Richman said that the industrial park takes its water from Lil'wat Nation and that there is a limited supply of it.

"There is a fair bit of water usage in the production of medical marijuana," said Richman.

"We currently buy our water from Lil'wat Nation. We are currently working (with them) on an agreement to make sure it's equitable for everybody.

"We're trying to monitor how much water gets used in the industrial park because it comes out of their reservoir in Mount Currie, and if there's too much being used in the industrial park that could leave residents in Mount Currie short on water."

Richman added that there might need to be some community visioning for the industrial park, as he wants to see it retain its diverse set of businesses.

"I have no problem with either of these industries, but I wouldn't want to see the industrial park ... (turn into only) storage and marijuana production," said Richman.

Washroom Closed

Council was also notified that the washroom in the train station next to Blackbird Bakery would be closed for the winter.

"There have been issues and activities going on in those washrooms, and it's difficult for (the VOP's) very small (public works) staff to manage (them)," said Richman.

The plan is to keep the washrooms closed for the winter and develop strategies to manage the issues going forward.

"We definitely recognize the need for public washrooms," said Richman. "In fact, I feel we could use more than that one, as we continue to grow.

"It's something we've got to deal with. But we have to make sure it's a manageable situation for public works and it's safe for families and kids to go in there."

A bench for Bill Reynolds

Council also passed a motion to set aside $1,000 to build a bench in honour of Bill Reynolds, and place it at the Community Barn.

Reynolds was one of the founders of the Pemberton Men's Shed, and Richman said that he was an inspiring citizen—a paragon of civic engagement who could often be found around the popular hang out.

"Bill was the sort of person, that if you met him, you never forgot him," reflected Richman.

"He was just so genuine. I have so much respect for the way he lived his life. He made friends wherever he went; his heart and mind were always open." The Village is working with members of the Men's Shed and Reynolds' daughters on the project.

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