The Village of Pemberton (VOP) approved an amended draft policy for the sale of non-medicinal cannabis at its Tuesday, Oct. 2 regular council meeting. According to the policy, the sale of non-medicinal cannabis will be restricted to two outlets in the downtown area.
"This is new, so let's give ourselves a chance to work through it," said VOP Mayor Mike Richman. "I think we need to see how this goes, and then adjustments (can) be made to our zoning."
The public and community stakeholders were able to give feedback on the policy, which was shaped by council at a Committee of the Whole meeting in early September.
According to staff, a public survey on the policy garnered 100 responses, and 78 per cent of those polled supported council's decision to restrict cannabis sales to the C-1 Zone (downtown area).
That said, staff made some changes to the draft policy after Pemberton RCMP, School District 48 (SD 48), and the principal of Pemberton Secondary School raised concerns about the lack of "setback" limits in the policy.
Setback limits can be used to provide buffer zones between areas of concern, such as schools and businesses, like cannabis stores.
Council asked staff to abandoned the setback limits given the small size of Pemberton, and the fact that the schools are within close proximity to the downtown area.
In a letter to VOP senior planner Lisa Pedrini, Mohammed Azim, secretary treasurer for SD 48, expressed his "strong opposition" to the abolishment of setback limits.
"Having recently discussed a similar situation in relation to the District of Squamish, we would like to encourage the Village of Pemberton to consider increasing setback limits to 300 metres, which would bring them into line with the current limits in most other municipalities," said Azim.
To address the concern, staff included a setback limit of 150 metres from schools, the community centre and the youth centre in the new version of the policy.
This will only preclude cannabis retail from a small section of the C-1 zone located on Portage Road (the area around the Pony Restaurant).
Richman said that part of the rationale of forgoing setbacks was to ensure that the Village doesn't inadvertently create a monopoly for one cannabis business.
"What we didn't want to do is find ourselves in a situation, where with our zoning and our setbacks, we have given a monopoly ability (to one business)," he explained.
Staff also tweaked permissible operating hours for cannabis retailers.
Permissible hours were reduced from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The changes were made at the request of Vancouver Coastal Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, who said in a letter to council that current research shows that longer operating hours may increase harm and impaired driving.
Council also supported the issuance of an amended liquor licence for the Pemberton Town Square Restaurant, which will allow it to operate until 1 a.m. seven days a week if it is granted by the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
The amended liquor licence would allow for "patron participation," meaning singing and dancing would be allowed.
The newly minted restaurant is currently permitted to serve alcohol between 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The Village put two ads in Pique and received two letters from Pemberton residents. Both raised concerns about noise disturbances.
As a co-owner of the restaurant, Richman stepped out of the room for the discussions and vote.
The remaining councillors supported the extended hours unanimously, after discussing enforcement mechanisms available to the Village should noise issues arise.
Council also voted to support a liquor licence for a lounge at the Pemberton Brewing Company, which is located in a building at 1936 Stonecutter Place in the Pemberton Industrial Park.
The brewery opened this year and already operates a "tasting room" where guests can purchase flights of beers or fill growlers to consume off-site.
Council, however, expressed concern about proposed serving hours.
In its application, the Pemberton Brewing Company asked to be permitted to serve until 3 a.m. seven days a week.
Council therefore made its support contingent on changing that time to 1 a.m.
Village of Pemberton council expressed frustration at the province over the fact that it still hasn't painted its crosswalks on Portage Road—despite repeated requests from the Village.
"Even though we constantly talk about how important the crosswalks are, we just don't have any power to make it happen," said VOP Chief Administrative Officer Nikki Gilmore.
The issue took on added urgency last week after a vehicle clipped a boy's bike.
The boy was reportedly on a crosswalks that was faded and hard to make out.
A petition to pressure the province to take action has garnered significant attention.
Gilmore said she's been adamant with the province about getting them painted, and that she brings up the issue on all of her phone calls with provincial officials.
"I did receive notification in August that the tender had been issued and awarded to an independent contractor," she said.
"They were supposed to do (the work) at the end of September, and (it) ended up raining.
"The contractor has also been given other jobs it bid on to complete.
"My last update that I received from the Ministry of Transportation is that they were putting pressure to get there as soon as possible, but they couldn't give me a time or a date."
As a way to pressure the government to take action urgently, council directed staff to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure asking for action.
After the council meeting, Richman questioned why the work wasn't done during last week's nice spell of weather.
"It's really frustrating," said Richman, citing the safety risk.
"It's ridiculous. How is there not a budget and a work plan knowing that there are kids crossing and walking along that road?"
According to a statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sent to Pique on Wednesday, Oct. 3, the plan is to get the work started in the next ten days.
"(Mainroad Pavement Marking) crews are working hard to complete another major project and hope to move to the Pemberton/Whistler area as soon as possible. The forecast looks good so we fully expect to see this work start within the next 10 days," said the statement.