Town of Osoyoos Council will gather tomorrow afternoon for one last look at a zoning amendment bylaw that would — at least temporarily — prohibit “marijuana operations across Town.”

Council has already delivered two readings to Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1085.99,2016. A third reading of the bylaw is expected following discussion tomorrow. Council can also deny or postpone third reading.

The decision to set an August 9 special meeting was in keeping with recommendations from planning director Alain Cunningham, who urged Council to “(move) ahead expeditiously” in order to:

  • Allow council to focus on a long-range, community-based approach to marijuana retailing;
  • Reinforce bylaw enforcement and RCMP efforts to control “any proliferating pressures for opening illegal outlets;”
  • Head off legal challenges that come from existing outlets claiming to have status under a “legal non-conforming” use; and
  • Offer clear town messaging to help businesses with their short- and long-term planning.

The bylaw would be a temporary measure that would expressly prohibit all marijuana operations, although it would not apply to medical marijuana grow operations already allowed with the Town’s M1- General Industrial zoning.

It anticipates a decision by the federal government later this month “liberalizing medical marijuana regulations that could legalize retail outlets for sales to medical recipients” and a “broader legalization of marijuana for recreational users expected later next year.”

Council is being told by Town administration that “our short-term interim zoning bylaw amendment is intended to hold the line until Council can work with staff and the public to develop a ‘made in Osoyoos solution.’

In mid-July, Council held a public meeting, looking for guidance from Osoyoos residents on how to deal with cannabis operations in the community.

“The meeting did not so much focus on the bylaw as it provided a platform for industry concerns that their customers should be assured safe, convenient and legal access to varying products for meeting their individual medical needs (rather than relying on receiving products through the mail from a certified grower which is the current requirement),” reads a report prepared for tomorrow’s meeting.

The report is available for review here.

NDP Leader John Horgan, who was in Osoyoos on Saturday morning, said inaction at both the federal and provincial level is adding pressure to communities like Osoyoos to deal with burgeoning issues such as licensing medical marijuana outlets.

“Who’s taking the action? Who’s being forced to deal with it? The municipal governments — because there’s inaction at the top,” he said.

“It’s falling to people who are required by their responsibilities as municipal officials to deal with the licensing of the commercial application, but there are so many other layers involved. If all three layers of our governments aren’t working together, you get chaos, you get rebels who say I’m going to take action because someone else is not.”

Tuesday’s special meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

— With files from Roy Wood

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