As the law has changed, would you like to dip into a smoke shop on Beacon for some reefer or should Sidney be a marijuana-free retail experience?
Now is your chance to tell the Town what you think, as it is asking for residents’ views on a potential bylaw amendment, which would allow the sale of cannabis downtown and the manufacturing of cannabis products in the Sidney Business Park.
“Numerous parties have approached the Town on an informal basis to inquire about the potential for setting up a cannabis retail store,” says Corey Newcomb, senior manager of long range planning. “Following lengthy council discussions, it was decided that our zoning regulations would not exclude Beacon Avenue.”
The previous council adopted a bylaw in October prohibiting the “retail sale, production or distribution” of cannabis, while awaiting national legislation.
Since the legalization of the drug, the Town of Sidney is now checking with residents to see if a store would be acceptable. If it is, the Town will likely move ahead with the necessary zoning bylaw change.
Perhaps indicating the controversial nature of the proposal, despite business organizations calling for more creative thinking to stimulate main-street Sidney, no business group the News Review asked, including the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society, was willing to discuss the implications of the bylaw change on record.
Supporters of the change say businesses should consider the benefits, with Sidney and Saanich thought to be the only two municipalities in the CRD considering similar changes, potentially stealing a march on their neighbours. The amendment would mean an application for rezoning would not be required to open a store.
“This could potentially make Sidney a more attractive location to open a cannabis retail location, as no rezoning requirement could potentially increase predictability and reduce timelines for potential businesses compared to other municipalities that do require rezonings, which I believe is most municipalities in the Capital Region,” says Newcomb.
Other potential positives for business would include the sale of non-psychoactive CBD products for pain relief, being adopted by growing numbers of seniors.
If the bylaw change went through and a store were to open, it would be expected to operate an “active storefront” in line with the Town’s aim to keep Beacon Av. visually attractive to shoppers. However, due to concerns regarding youth, Newcomb says the location and appearance of a store would be considered, such as proximity to schools. He notes that any new smoke shop would have to abide by provincial rules, such as not having cannabis products visible from the street.
The proposed bylaw would not allow a cannabis store to open without council approval and the change would not affect access to medical cannabis.
A public hearing on the proposed bylaw is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at Sidney town hall, in council chambers.