Kamloops amends business licence and zoning bylaws ahead of marijuana legalization

Kamloops city council approved changes to zoning and business licence bylaws to prepare for the legalization of marijuana and to deal with the city's existing dispensaries.

New laws could force illegal dispensaries to close

Kamloops city council has approved changes to zoning and business licence bylaws to control cannabis dispensaries in the city. (CBC)

Kamloops, B.C.'s city council has approved changes to zoning and business licence bylaws to handle current and future cannabis dispensaries following a public hearing on Dec.19. 

Zoning for dispensaries will ensure they will not be located near schools or childcare facilities, they won't be able to be clustered into one area and there will be ways of mitigating odour from the shops so as not to bother neighbouring tenants and landowners.

The new bylaws allow property use inspectors and bylaw officers to ensure existing and new dispensaries are licensed and are operating in a building with correct zoning. 

"It also gives them the tools to deal with the illegal dispensaries that are here now that are causing problems," Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said. 

"A lot of the dispensaries in town, I don't even know where they all are," he said.  

Christian added that these regulations could force dispensaries to close, but he hopes a "more creative solution" can be found. 

Landlord responsibility

Property owners will have to ensure their tenants have a valid business licence as a result of these changes. 

Leslie Lax, former city council candidate and consulting economist, doesn't think property owners should be responsible for vetting the businesses they rent space to.

"That really means they need to ensure the business has a licence and to me, that's a city responsibility," he said.

More questions

Christian has been critical of the B.C. and federal governments on their approach to marijuana regulations. He said before the City can continue working on further bylaws and guidelines, the provincial government has to answer some questions. 

"What we really need to know as municipalities is where are we going to be able to buy marijuana? Is it going to be in pharmacies, is it going to be in liquor stores, is it going to be in government liquor stores?" he said. "Those are the kind of questions people need answers to."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops