At its regular meeting of Jan. 4, 2021, Cache Creek council was asked to provide input and feedback on the proposed Cannabis Regulatory Framework documents, with council members given until the end of January to submit their comments.
The framework was developed by a working group made up of members of council, village administration, the school district, the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department, and the RCMP, and is intended to gauge overall local appetite for retail sale and production of cannabis within the village.
A report presented to council on Jan. 4 summarized the findings of a community survey which saw 55 responses. Six businesses also provided input separately. The overall result showed that Cache Creek community members are generally supportive of federally- and provincially-licensed cannabis businesses within the village.
These businesses are regulated at both the federal and provincial levels when it comes to production, health and safety standards, signage, consumption, available products, and more. Municipal governments are able to add additional regulations tailored to their individual circumstances, situations, and requirements.
There were concerns raised during the planning process about signage for retail stores selling cannabis, particularly the impact on youth. At the Jan. 4 meeting, Mayor Santo Talarico requested that there should be no cannabis signage (or usage) visible from the boundaries of Cache Creek Elementary School.
Staff have recommended that retail cannabis sales only be permitted in the C1 (General and Highway Commercial) zone, which mostly applies to properties on Highway 1 (south and east of the junction), Highway 97 to the north, and Todd Road and Old Cariboo Road to the west and south. Other commercial zones within the village were found to be inappropriate for various reasons, including proximity to residential zones. It was noted that anyone interested in retail locations outside the C1 zone can apply for a zoning amendment.
Staff also recommended a 50 metre buffer between any cannabis stores and the community hall and local park, and a 200 metre buffer zone between any cannabis stores and the elementary school. There is no proposed cap at present on the number of stores allowed, on the basis of letting the market decide how many could be supported within the town.
Staff pointed out that there are two liquor establishments within the village and noted that the possibility of two retail cannabis stores would be “reasonable” given Cache Creek’s size. A buffer of 50 metres between cannabis stores would — along with the buffers already noted — also limit the number of stores possible. However, a restriction on the number of retail cannabis stores allowed could be recommended by council.
It was proposed that cannabis and industrial hemp production within the village be restricted to districts zoned M1 (Light Industrial), M2 (General Industrial), and AR1 (Agricultural). There are M1- and M2-zoned properties adjacent to Highway 1 south of Rattlesnake Hill, as well as one small parcel zoned AR1, but none within the built-up part of the village.
Because of the added administrative costs associated with cannabis facilites, it was recommended that a business licence fee for a retail cannabis shop should be based on what is charged for a store selling liquor ($150) plus an additional 15 per cent. The cost for a business licence for a manufacturer producing cannabis or hemp should be the same as that for a manufacturing plant ($400) plus 15 per cent.
At the Jan. 4 meeting, Talarico said he would like to see publicly traded companies engaging in commercial cannabis production charged a “significantly higher” business licence fee than a privately owned one. Chief Administrative Officer Martin Dalsin said that he would look into the legality of that idea.
Staff noted that when it comes to consumption of cannabis, provincial regulations already ban smoking, vaping, and all other forms of consumption in many areas, such as places where children and youth are frequently present (eg. parks, sports fields, and playgrounds). Other areas where consumption is already prohibited include public buildings, workplaces, and common areas of apartments and condos; within six metres of air intakes, windows, and doorways of such places; within six metres of bus stops; in regional and municipal parks; and on public patios.