A staff report that will pave the way for the District of Sooke to adopt regulations, procedures and bylaws to govern cannabis retail operations was presented to council’s committee-of-the-whole on Jan. 21.
The lengthy application process outlined in the report would require prospective cannabis retail store owners to first obtain a B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch licence, where it would be referred to the district for approval.
At that point, the district bylaw enforcement and building staff, the RCMP, and the Sooke School District would be invited to provide input.
There would also be an invitation for public input with owners and tenants within 100 meters of the proposed retail cannabis store property being sent a notice in the mail. Two subsequent advertisements of the application would then appear in the newspaper, again inviting public input.
Following all that, council would have the right to a final determination of the prospective store owner’s fate.
“Cannabis retail store license applications from the LCRB accepted by planning staff would also be required to submit an application form to obtain a cannabis retail sales permit. The proposed fee for this application was set at $3,200, based on the minimum fee for a rezoning application.
Council accepted the report but added a few caveats of its own, including a provision that there be a minimum separation of 300 meters from any school.
“[Council] also asked for the same minimum separation of 300 meters from any other cannabis store, so as to prevent a clustering of the outlets,” said Don Shaffer, the district’s CAO.
“The stores would also not be allowed a footprint of more than 464 square meters, and council asked that a provision be included that would maintain the limit of three cannabis stores in the community that is now in place.”
Staff was directed to prepare the policies and bylaws needed to put the proposed plans into place.
Schaffer was not prepared to commit to a specific timeline for when that work will be done.
“We’re probably looking at late February or early March before they start being brought to council,” he said.
“After that, it would be up to council to accept and enact those bylaws or seek any changes as they see fit.”
In the meantime, the three pot shops currently allowed to operate in Sooke may continue to operate as normal.