File photo Under a new White Rock planning procedures amendment, cannabis retail proposals will be evaluated like liquor license referrals.

File photo Under a new White Rock planning procedures amendment, cannabis retail proposals will be evaluated like liquor license referrals.

White Rock to treat cannabis, liquor licence proposals similarly

Planning procedures bylaw amended in advance of applications

The City of White Rock has given initial approval to add cannabis store licensing to its existing application procedures for liquor licence referrals.

But planning director Carl Johanssen told Peace Arch News that doesn’t mean the current city council has changed the previous council’s zoning decision to allow only one cannabis retail store in the city centre – on a temporary use permit – as a “test case.”

He said the primary purpose of a housekeeping amendment to the city’s planning procedures bylaw – which still requires final approval from council – is to bring city regulations in line with the revamped provincial licensing authority, now known as the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

It also corrects a wording error that would have sent applications back to council for further approval even after they had been delegated to staff, Johannsen said.

He added that, under the amendment, any applicant to be the city’s sole cannabis retailer must be referred to the city by the provincial regulation branch, and must also apply for the temporary use permit.

As part of the process, both a public meeting and a public hearing will be required, to identify concerns and assess the impact of the proposed business on the community, he said.

The temporary use permit fee would be $3,000, with a $500 business fee on top of that, he noted.

Community attitudes to cannabis retailing were extensively surveyed by the city last year, prior to legalization.

There has not been a spate of applicants since the city subsequently set a zoning policy of allowing one cannabis retailer , Johannsen said.

“There has been interest from some potential applicants, but it’s really waiting for the bylaw,” he said, adding that the amendment “enables the process for somebody to apply for that one temporary use permit.”

Johannsen said it’s anticipated council will consider final adoption of the bylaw shortly, possibly as soon as the March 11 regular council meeting.