Staff presented the cannabis retail strategy update to Council on August 2, including the Cannabis Retail Policy for adoption and an overview of proposed bylaw amendments to introduce and regulate cannabis retail.
During the winter and spring, consultation with industry, key stakeholders, and the community helped to identify community goals and priorities for cannabis retail implementation, and the proposed regulatory scheme. The RMOW is now bringing forward a comprehensive policy based on Official Community Plan (OCP) goals, objectives and policies to provide regulatory direction, guide the review of applications, and consistency in decision-making to permit cannabis retail establishments in Whistler.
August 2, 2022 Council Policy, Staff Report and Appendices
- Draft Cannabis Retail Policy G-17
- Staff Report to Council
- Proposed Bylaw Amendment Summary
- Community Engagement Summary
The RMOW held public engagement in winter and spring 2022 to gather input and feedback on the proposed framework approach which was used to help shape the Cannabis Retail Policy and proposed bylaw amendments.
To ensure broad consultation during development of the policy framework, participation was sought from:
- the community through an online engagement portal and questionnaire;
- community organizations and agencies in one-on-one stakeholder meetings; and
- the cannabis retail industry through a virtual workshop and dedicated engagement portal.
Lessons learned from other communities and insight from retailers on business operations helped to inform the Policy and updates to bylaws proposed for Whistler.
The summary of the community consultation process is available here: Community Engagement Summary
The Federal Cannabis Act became law in October 2018, establishing a legal framework for controlling the lawful production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis in Canada.
Each Province and Territory has the authority to regulate certain aspects including distribution and retail. Municipalities have the authority to further regulate certain aspects such as retail through land use and business licensing regulations and public use through smoking regulations.
In B.C., the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) oversees liquor and non-medical cannabis regulations. These are the rules and laws that govern B.C.'s private retail sale of liquor and non-medical cannabis.
What is changing?
On December 7, 2021, Council directed staff to proceed with developing an approach to regulating cannabis retail in Whistler, including a policy framework based on OCP goals, objectives, and policies, a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) framework, bylaw amendments, and a stakeholder and community engagement strategy.
The Cannabis Retail Policy establishes application requirements and review and approval process. Applicants will be required to obtain a TUP and business licence from the RMOW, in addition to a Cannabis Retail licence from the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). The municipal approvals process is parallel to the provincial licensing process, which is similar to the approval process for liquor stores and pubs. Provincial cannabis retail referrals will be reviewed by the RMOW after a complete TUP application has been accepted.
Designated TUP areas will allow Council to consider one retail cannabis location in each of The Village, Village North, Creekside, Function Junction and Nester's Plaza. Distancing requirements between cannabis locations has been added to avoid clustering between stores and from schools and Meadow Park Recreation Centre. This allocation of locations will ensure access to retail cannabis for residents and visitors, while limiting the overall amount.
In addition to the Cannabis Retail Policy, amendments to the following bylaws are necessary to support the regulatory framework update:
- Zoning and Parking Bylaw to update relevant definitions and to establish TUP areas where the RMOW would consider allowing cannabis retail;
- Business Licence and Regulation Bylaw to establish business licence fees for retail cannabis establishments;
- Land Use Procedures and Fees Bylaw to update Temporary Use Permit application procedures;
- Liquor Licence Application Processing Fee Bylaw, No. 2224, 2019 to add in a fee for review of the Cannabis Retail Store Licence referral from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch; and
- Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw No. 2174, 2018 to add a penalty for unauthorized use of land or building for cannabis retail use.