Marijuana dispensaries in Victoria face more stringent criteria for rezoning, after city councillors voted Thursday to extend the buffer zone between shops to 400 metres from the current 200 metres. The move is expected to thin out the number of shops operating within city limits. Don Denton/Black Press

Marijuana dispensaries in Victoria face more stringent criteria for rezoning, after city councillors voted Thursday to extend the buffer zone between shops to 400 metres from the current 200 metres. The move is expected to thin out the number of shops operating within city limits. Don Denton/Black Press

Pot dispensary buffer zone in Victoria doubles, number of shops could be cut in half

Neighbourhood input pushes councillors to extend distance between shops to 400 metres

A move to extend the buffer zone between cannabis retailers in the City of Victoria from 200 to 400 metres is expected to effectively halve the number of operations currently in place.

Council sitting as committee of the whole Thursday voted 7-2 on a motion to extend the distance between shops. It will form part of the criteria for retailers applying for a rezoning as part of their continued operation.

“What the public sees now is not what we’re going to have [in future],” said Mayor Lisa Helps following the meeting. She called the change a “common-sense approach” that will help ensure there is no over-saturation of dispensaries in one neighbourhood.

Currently, many of the city’s 30-plus dispensaries are located within 200 metres of another shop, Helps said.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe collaborated on the motion with Coun. Margaret Lucas. Thornton-Joe said the biggest concern they heard in past months from residents and other affected parties was not so much the distance between shops, but the sheer number operating in the city.

The move to extend the buffer came in response mostly to input from the North Park and downtown residents associations, which were said to be the only resident groups to provide written input and recommendations to the city on further changing its policy around dispensaries.

The two-part motion also included the ability for council to make exceptions to the 400-metre rule based on case-by-case circumstances. The existing cannabis retailer rezoning policy, put in place in anticipation of the federal decriminalization of marijuana, went to public hearing earlier this year, but that proceeding was relatively sparsely attended.

Coun. Ben Isitt pointed out at Thursday’s meeting that many neighbourhood associations chose not to participate in the process, feeling that it didn’t make sense for the city to create policy before federal regulations came down.

Councillors also heard from city staff on enforcement issues. While only two dispensaries have so far been granted the rezoning to operate within current city bylaws, all but four or five have begun the rezoning process. Some have been handed the $1,000 a day fine for non-compliance and encouraged to apply for a rezoning and a business licence.

It remains to be seen whether some dispensaries will continue to operate even if they are rejected for rezonings given the new buffer zone. Helps acknowledged that enforcement may likely be one of the next challenges the City has in this longstanding issue.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

Island Health declares outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

On Nov. 23, Saanich council voted unanimously in favour of sending a letter encouraging the federal government to pass a bill to declare Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for national day of reconciliation honouring residential school survivors

Sept. 30 statutory holiday would recognize harm residential schools caused, mayor says

Athletes with Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s open men’s staff head out on a high-tech outrigger canoe. The club raised more than $16,500 at its 2020 Wetdasche event. (Courtesy of Fairway Gorge Paddling Club)
Victoria paddling group breaks fundraising record

Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s 2020 Wetdashe event raises more than $16,500

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by former Saanich resident surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read