Some B.C. towns not high on pot stores

In Nelson you can get tacos and marijuana in one stop. In Merritt, you may get six RCMP cruisers and a search warrant

Nelson Potorium owner Chris Campbell and her employee Kaleigh Herald pose with some of the products they sell from their Baker Street storefront.

In Nelson there are now a half a dozen marijuana stores, one next to a taco restaurant and another conveniently located beside an auto body shop.

Nelson city manager Kevin Cormack got laughs from his audience with his description of the long-standing acceptance of pot use in the laid-back Kootenay community of 10,000 people. He spoke to a forum at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria, describing a downtown with more bead shops than bars.

But not everyone was laughing.

Merritt city manager Shawn Boven outlined council’s response when a self-proclaimed medical pot dispensary opened its doors this summer, its owners saying they don’t need a business licence for a “compassion club.”

Merritt’s bylaw officer started issuing daily $100 violation tickets, and municipal staff called a meeting with the local RCMP to see what they would do. Five officers turned out and said they would need a couple of weeks to investigate. They would also need legal advice, although everyone agrees retail pot sales remain illegal until next year when the Justin Trudeau government has promised to legalize and regulate it.

Merritt council isn’t engaged in a moral crusade, Boven said. They just want laws evenly enforced, and on Sept. 7 they were. The store was raided and charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking were recommended.

Port Alberni went the regulatory route, requiring dispensaries to stay 1,000 metres apart, outside the main tourist area, and no more than 300 metres from any school. When one violated the limit, it was ticketed and the owners challenged the ticket in court, said Coun. Ron Paulson.

Two days after a judge upheld the Port Alberni bylaw, police executed a search warrant on that store and the owner’s house, where a sawed-off shotgun was among items seized. It’s a reminder of possible gang involvement when “you don’t know where the stuff is coming from,” Paulson said.

Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak clarified that her administration isn’t ignoring dispensaries, where medicines with names such as “Shark Shock” are sold and one store features a poster mocking police. Schools and minors are protected and two stores have been shut down, Kozak said.

Fernie Coun. Jon Levesque said his council isn’t permitting stores until Ottawa sorts out its new regulations, and asked what other communities would suggest to get ready.

Advice included determining whether tourist areas should be allowed, what should be charged for a business licence ($5,000 a year is the consensus) and what if any zoning should be established. Just because a product is legal doesn’t mean a community has to accommodate the business, the forum was told.


Just Posted

Province opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Letter: U.S. tariffs on pulp industry unfair

MP slams Prime Minister for failing to secure new agreement with U.S.

Quesnel Midgets skate to a come-from-behind victory in first game of Provincials

Local goalie Jakob Drapeau stopped 48 shots for win in Tier 2 Midget championship

Business broken into on Gassoff Road

Quesnel RCMP are looking for a white single-cab Dodge Ram pickup

WATCH: Quesnel youth rehearse for The Lion King Jr.

Young singers and dancers are in their second day of rehearsals

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals of the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Sea lion with rope wrapped around neck saved by Vancouver Aquarium

Steller sea lions are a species of special concern and some populations are endangered in parts of Alaska

B.C. can learn from Washington’s wine industry growth

Winery owner cites importance of industry collaboration

Most Read