EDITORIAL: Sooke council’s pot approach an opportunity lost

When the federal government tabled Bill 36 in September 2018, it threw many municipal politicians for a loop when they realized that they had, quite suddenly, been saddled with a level of authority and responsibility that most didn’t want.

Nevertheless, they began the sometimes painful, sometimes comical, process of trying to figure out what powers they had and what rules would apply.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said final approval of where, when and how pot stores could operate was up to municipal governments – and that included the ability to block cannabis stores altogether. A hodgepodge of rules resulted that had some municipalities, including Sooke, accepting of the businesses (with some restrictions) while others began to channel the fervour of prohibition era temperance unions, trying their best to ban the killer weed from their communities.

As we said, comical.

Now, just as the dust has begun to settle on the issue of cannabis sales, a new issue has come to Sooke, namely where the stuff can be grown.

The cannabis report received by council at its last meeting raised more questions than it answered as it noted the eight different license classes for growers and tried vainly to offer advice on whether the activity should be considered an agricultural, industrial, or commercial enterprise.

Perhaps, the report implied, it could be a little of all of the above.

In true bureaucratic form, the report reviewed economic considerations spoke to the approach of other municipalities, and even articulated some of the thorny decisions that needed to be made.

It’s what happened next that should be of concern to Sooke residents.

Instead of actually discussing the matter and providing staff with direction, council punted. They directed staff to prepare the necessary bylaws and policies without providing the poor souls with even a modicum of guidance on the issues.

Oh sure, there will be a chance for council to debate those bylaws. There will be public hearings. Council might even throw out whatever is recommended. But the fact is that, by abrogating their responsibility, they will have allowed non-elected bureaucrats to frame the debate.

That framing is unlikely to be innovative since it’s common for bureaucracies, by their very nature, to defend the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.

This was an opportunity for Sooke’s council to lead. Sadly, it was an opportunity lost.

Just Posted

Single parent resource centre continues operations in partially-condemned building

Victoria’s 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre moves back into heritage home

Townhouses on the rise in popularity in Greater Victoria

A report finds 152 townhouse units in the construction pipeline and coming onto market in 2020.

Annual Oak Bay Collector Car Festival expects 15,000 spectators

July 28 show features a pair of super cars that won prestigious awards at the Detroit Autorama show

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

Free-B Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Head to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see some family favourites on the big screen

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read