Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes signalled strong support for the recreational cannabis industry as an economic opportunity.
“We [Saanich] are 30 per cent of the [regional] population, so we are 30 per cent of the market,” he said. “This is a huge economic opportunity.”
Former senior politicians are joining the boards of companies in the recreational cannabis industry around the world, and the Canadian federal government is actively supporting the industry, he said, pointing to Ottawa’s financial commitment towards First Nations to help them enter the economy.
“As a municipality, it is incumbent on us to make sure that Saanich isn’t missing out,” he said. “Why would we miss out on an economic opportunity, where businesses can open up in Saanich to sell their products to our residents, but more importantly, the production and manufacture of high quality recreational and medical product that is legal?”
Haynes made these comments as the public awaits Saanich’s approach towards the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Saanich council issued a “full” prohibition on the sale, production and distribution of recreational cannabis in late May of this year, because of what staff called a “[lack] of detailed information” from federal and provincial officials. “This is a fast-moving and evolving issue and information continues to be released,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning in the report.
In fact, staff were still working at the time under the assumption that cannabis would become legal in the late summer of 2018. But it was not until Oct. 17 that recreational cannabis became legal.
“Now it is legal, staff are working on bringing that report back to Saanich [council] to decide,” said Haynes.
Other communities, notably Victoria, have recently updated cannabis retail bylaws. Victoria will also eventually consider at least six applications for marijuana retail businesses.
As of Dec. 17, the provincial government has received 365 applications for marijuana retail businesses. Of those, 209 applications have gone to local government or Indigenous Nation for comment. Three businesses — all located in the Interior and northern B.C. — have received licenses.