By DALE BOYD
The Town of Oliver is setting aside a hearing to “hash out” some details in local bylaws prior to the legalization of the sale of recreational marijuana.
Council on Monday “decimated,” as Coun. Larry Schwartzenberger put it, a staff recommendation to restrict cannabis sales via zoning bylaws in Oliver, as well as a $15,000 ask to hire a consultant to determine the wishes of the community.
“We will be able to approve or disapprove an application. If something is in the commercial zone that’s too close to a park or school, we will just not approve it,” Coun. Schwartzenberger said.
“That makes it a lot easier than trying to rewrite all these other things.”
Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes noted the town has already said it will not endorse the sale of recreational marijuana while it remains illegal under the Criminal Code.
“Even once that legislation has passed, we don’t have to give out a business license if we don’t want to until we have our framework in place,” the Mayor said. “It shouldn’t be up to the Town of Oliver to invent the wheel here.”
With other municipalities going through similar situations, Mayor Hovanes said it makes little sense for the town to come up with its own recommendations and policies from scratch.
“When (the Feds) pass something, when they actually have something in writing, we’re going to have that framework,” he said.
A majority of council spoke out against funding the consultation.
“I’m worried a consultant’s going to be another report on the shelf that’s going to cost us lots of money,” Mayor Hovanes said.
He added even more guiding legal framework would come forward from the province as well.
Coun. Rick Machial’s suggestion to “hash out some ideas” at a further council meeting drew a round of laughter from council.
“I think we have to wait until we get more information,” Coun. Machial said.
Federal legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana is expected to come into effect in either summer or fall of 2018.
A future committee of the whole meeting is expected to discuss the issue further.