Warfield’s cannabis survey drew in 260 participants. The majority supported pot legalization and sales in the village, however residents also replied that they want to see certain dispensary restrictions. (Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash)

Kootenay village pot survey reveals a mixed bag

The majority of Warfield respondents were for cannabis sales, but with dispensary restrictions

Restricting the number and location of pot dispensaries in Warfield seems to be what most struck a nerve with residents, at least according to results from the village’s survey on cannabis.

Of 260 respondents, 201 – or 77 per cent – said the number of outlets should be limited. And 205 people – or 79 per cent – replied that retail sales should be limited to commercially zoned areas.

Of the nine questions Warfield council asked its constituents, Mayor Diane Langman says the survey’s snapshot doesn’t come as a surprise, rather, it reflects what other municipal leaders are also hearing.

“Between written surveys and electronic responses, we had 260 survey participants which we were quite happy with,” Langman began.

“The results seemed to follow what most municipalities are seeing, which is there is a group who is very opposed to having a dispensary in the village,” she told the Times. “With a larger group who is fine with a dispensary but only want to have one in the village and have it limited to the commercial core.”

A major talking point that surfaced was about who might unwittingly be exposed to the retail sale of cannabis.

“Some of the main concerns that came out of the survey were about where the high school kids catch the school bus in the morning,” Langman explained. “It is in the commercial core, so some felt they didn’t want students catching a bus in front of a dispensary.”

She says some residents were adamant that cannabis is altogether banned in Warfield even when the substance is legalized in the very near future.

”For some, there is a lot of fear on the use of cannabis, questions about addiction and treatment, distance from parks and school, etcetera,” Langman said.

“There are still a lot of answers that municipalities are waiting for as well and once we know more answers, we will put together an information piece.”

So far, legalization is still set for July, she said, emphasizing, “But the federal government has said it will not be on Canada Day.”

With results now in hand, should the Village of Warfield get an application for a dispensary, council would first have to change its municipal zoning regulations.

“In doing an amendment to the zoning bylaw,” Langman said. “We would then need to hold a public hearing where we would advertise and listen to the residents who come out.”

The Warfield survey shows that 64 per cent, or 166 respondents are in support of legalizing recreational use of pot compared to 64 – or 25 per cent – who were not. Another key point is that 54 per cent replied that dispensaries should not be outright prohibited compared to 39 per cent who were for prohibition.

Another question, this one about banning smoking in all public spaces, garnered a significant sway to the “yes” side. Of all the responses, 73 per cent or 189 replied that smoking should be banned in all public places compared to 42 people, or 16 per cent, who answered “no.”

Only one query was close to being split down the middle. When asked if residents should be allowed to grow pot outdoors, 46 per cent, or 118 people said yes, compared to 42 per cent, or 109, who disagreed.

As far as the City of Trail, Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac recently reported she is working on a draft for zoning and business licence bylaw amendments pertaining to non-medical cannabis sales.

The city chose to forego a survey, instead utilizing municipal zoning processes already in place.

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