The City of Fernie now has a policy in place to deal with retail cannabis operations proposed in its jurisdiction.
At the January 14 regular meeting, council was asked to consider the Provincial Cannabis Retail Licence Referral Policy, which aims to help City staff manage applications for retail cannabis licences.
Manager of Planning Patrick Sorfleet explained that the provincial licensing process requires the support of the local government in order to approve the licence. This gives the City the power to veto any application.
“By adopting this policy, council will explicitly state the circumstances where it will or will not consider a referral, how the default engagement system will function, and at what stage in the provincial process council will consider the referral,” said Sorfleet in his report to council.
In the absence of a policy, City staff would need to prepare an advance report for every application and ask these questions on a case by case basis, thereby adding weeks to the decision-making timeframe.
Sorfleet said while this policy will mean that all applications could be dealt with in a single meeting, council will still retain the ability to request extra information or engagement prior to a decision.
Under the policy, council will only consider applications where the use is permitted in the zoning bylaw and once the Province completes its fit and proper testing.
Residents within a 50 metre radius of the property will be asked to provide written comment on an application before it comes before council. Business licences and signage permits will be withheld until a provincial retail licence is issued.
Prior to the Sorfleet’s presentation, Councillor Morgan Pulsifer declared a conflict of interest and removed himself from council chambers.
Councillor Kevin McIssac moved that section four be removed from the policy on the basis that signage permit are not withheld from other business licence applicants.
Sorfleet argued that allowing an applicant to erect signage could create the perception their licence has already been approved and lessen the impact of public engagement.
However, the amendment was carried with only Councillor Yvonne Prest opposed and the policy was approved with the deletion of section four.
Waste collection fee increase imminent
Waste collection fees in Fernie will double under a new bylaw being considered by the City.
At the January 14 regular meeting, council gave third reading to Bylaw No. 2371, Waste and Regulation Bylaw No. 1845 as amended.
The proposed increase included in this bylaw and calculated at $158.09 per residence for 2019 to 2021 has been included in the 2019-2023 financial plan.
These changes were approved last year as part of a comprehensive review of solid waste collection, which included automation and curbside recycling collection. The increased costs were funded by reserves in 2018.
Once the bylaw is adopted, the annual user fee for waste collection will increase from $6.22 to $13.17 per month effective for the first quarter of 2019. It also changes the definition of acceptable containers to only those provided by the City.
Rails donated to freestyle club
The City of Fernie will donate rail feature equipment to the Fernie Freestyle Club.
Several years ago, the City bought the rail features for a Griz Days event called Rail Jam hosted in partnership with Commit Snow & Skate. The equipment, worth $5000, hasn’t been used since as the insurance costs for covering the risky activity are considered too high.
Staff identified that donating the rails to the Fernie Freestyle Club would free up valuable storage space at the public works yard and prevent them from ending up at the dump.
At the January 14 regular meeting, councillors debated whether the City could still put the rail features to use at a location such as the toboggan hill next to the aquatic centre.
However, the risk was still deemed too high and council approved the donation to the club.