Nearly five months after marijuana was legalized in Canada, staff is finally getting close to showing council a new bylaw that will regulate pot stores in Abbotsford.
A spokesperson told The News that council is likely to see staff’s framework for regulating marijuana stores next month.
During last fall’s campaign, Mayor Henry Braun said he expected that a decision on marijuana rules would be one of the first things on the newly elected council’s plate. But as other communities have put new rules in place, and as legal stores have begun popping up, marijuana in Abbotsford continues to be sold in shops that are unable to obtain a business licence.
Just to the east, in Chilliwack, council there adopted new zoning and business bylaws last fall, before pot became legal on Oct. 17. That city created a new zone for pot stores, a process that takes several months.
So far, the city has fielded 10 rezoning applications. A spokesperson said the first applications will come to council “in the near future.”
Last summer, nearly three-quarters of Abbotsford residents who responded to a city survey said marijuana stores should be legal. The survey also asked questions about regulations regarding the growing of marijuana in homes and the consumption of pot at restaurants and concerts.
That suggests the city’s rules may touch on aspects not considered by communities like Chilliwack, which moved more quickly by focusing mostly on the retail side of the equation.
Vancouver already has several legal cannabis stores, and the Liquor Distribution Branch announced in early February that it had so far received approval to open outlets in seven different B.C. cities. Kamloops, which had a store open on Oct. 17, is set for two more locations.
Abbotsford looks unlikely to follow the path of Pitt Meadows, which last fall banned retail marijuana sales.
In a survey prior to last fall’s election, four current councillors – Les Barkman, Ross Siemens, Sandy Blue and Kelly Chahal – indicated in a survey that they disagreed with the suggestion that marijuana stores should be prohibited.
The remaining four councillors, along with Mayor Henry Braun, all gave a neutral response to the query. Braun said at the time that he was obligated to come to a future public hearing “with an open mind” and shouldn’t give the impression that his mind had been made up.
But none have indicated that they were likely to go against the public support for legal marijuana sales.