Let’s start by being as fair as possible.
The Town of Sidney is busy. There’s no question about it.
Start with the pace of development going on right now and throw in a variety of high-profile, high-angst projects and one can imagine local politicians and municipal staff pulled this way and that.
The latest kerfuffle? Why, the SHOAL Centre just isn’t big enough to accommodate a meeting on the proposed Gateway retail site. It apparently doesn’t matter that larger venues are already booked. And that’s not the real issue anyway — those opposed to Gateway would like to see the meeting moved or rescheduled as a result, thereby delaying the further advancement of the project. They are looking for an advantage and, after all, all’s fair in love and war.
That’s not the issue being discussed here, however.
Sidney voted Monday to repeal the Dispensary by the Sea’s business license. It was interesting to see how quickly the councillors who had fought against an outright pulling of the license, flipped, seemingly based on the assertion that Sidney is just too busy this year.
They’ll wait to address cannabis dispensaries until their strategic planning session (which typically occurs once a year) — and perhaps by then the federal government will have changed the country’s medicinal marijuana access laws.
That’s a decision that could have been made close to a month ago. Instead, the operators of the Dispensary were left in limbo, wondering if the Town might consider changes that would allow them to keep operating, such as has been done in Victoria.
Again, in fairness, the Dispensary was technically operating outside of existing laws on distribution of medicinal marijuana. They’d argue, of course, the Supreme Court of Canada says otherwise, putting them in the right.
As these cannabis product dispensaries pop up all over the place, municipalities will eventually have to deal with them. If laws change, so will local bylaws. Sidney currently does not have dispensaries as part of their existing building license bylaw.
If laws don’t change, or take a direction that’s unexpected at best, municipalities will still have to deal with dispensaries — and in that case, Sidney is right on target.
It doesn’t seem like that will hold the course, however. And Sidney could very well run out of time to manage the issue and will face it all again should cannabis storefronts become the norm.