Cannabis Sales

On October 17, 2018, the government of Canada legalized non-medical cannabis with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. This major change to national legislation, in turn, triggered changes in how the Town of Gibsons treats existing non-medicinal cannabis retail stores, and how future applications for a licence to sell non-medicinal cannabis within Town boundaries will be processed.

For an overview of these changes, please refer to the frequently asked questions below.

For a more comprehensive discussion of the Town’s approach to cannabis legalization, please refer to the Staff Report on Cannabis Legalization File No: 6440-39.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of the federal government in the legalization of non-medical cannabis?

On October 17, 2018, the Canadian federal government legalized non-medical cannabis with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. The Act is intended to create a legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.

What is the role of the provincial government?

In light of the new Cannabis Act, the Province of BC has established a legislative framework for the legalization of non-medical cannabis with the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) and the Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA). The CCLA sets key regulations around cannabis, such as the minimum age to purchase, sell, or consume cannabis (19 years), how much cannabis adults may possess in a public place (30 grams) and where cannabis smoking and vaping are prohibited (everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at common places children gather.)

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), will license and monitor the retail sale of non-medical cannabis in BC.

For a complete overview of Province of BC cannabis regulations click here.

For a schedule of the tickets and fines associated with cannabis, a summary of the Cannabis Act, and details around non-medical cannabis retail licenses from the Province of BC, click here.

What is the role of the Town of Gibsons?

The Town of Gibsons will have a role in responding to Federal and Provincial cannabis production, distribution, and sale referrals. It will also play a major role in Licensing Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Stores, including determining appropriate locations for cannabis retail stores within Town boundaries. In fact, the LCRB will not issue a licence unless the Town provides a positive recommendation that the licence be issued.

*The Town does not have the power to control what type of cannabis gets sold within local cannabis dispensaries; that is strictly in the federal and provincial sphere.*

How many cannabis dispensaries currently exist in the Town of Gibsons?

Three dispensaries currently operate within Town boundaries: the S&M Sweet Shoppe and the Rainforest Compassion Club in Upper Gibsons, and Coastal Bay Cannabis in Lower Gibsons. Coastal Bay Cannabis is the only dispensary which has received a provincial license to sell marijuana.

How did the legalization of cannabis change the Town’s approach to regulating cannabis stores?

On October 16, 2018, the Town’s zoning bylaws were amended to prohibit cannabis stores in all zones. Instead, owners of cannabis dispensaries may apply for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP), or site-specific rezoning. These applications are then reviewed by Council on a case-by-case basis.

What is a Temporary Use Permit (TUP)?

A TUP may allow a use not permitted under zoning, specify conditions for the temporary use and allow and regulate the construction of buildings/structures related to the temporary use. Council may authorize a TUP for up to a three-year term, which may be renewed once before a new permit is required. Newspaper notification is a legislated requirement before a TUP may be issued, thus providing an opportunity for public input prior to Council decision.

Why was the zoning bylaw amended?

Without this change to the zoning bylaw, there was a risk that cannabis stores would open all over Gibsons and that Council would have little, or possibly no, authority to close them down once established.

Requiring cannabis dispensaries to apply for a TUP enables Council to assess the compatibility of a dispensary in an area, before permanently committing to allow the use by rezoning the site.

How does this bylaw amendment affect the existing cannabis dispensaries?

The Town has received Temporary Use Permit applications from the Healing Hut (see this Staff Report for more information) the Rainforest Compassion Club (see this Staff Report more information) and the S&M Sweet Shoppe.

What is the application process for permission to open a cannabis store?

There are two parts to the application process – one part to satisfy the requirements of the Town of Gibsons and one part to satisfy the requirements of the Province of BC. (See Part A & Part B below for more details). These application processes may be conducted concurrently.

Part A) Apply to the Town of Gibsons for a TUP or for site-specific rezoning, and then for a business licence.

In order to obtain a Town of Gibsons business licence, cannabis retailers must first apply to the Town for either a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) OR to rezone their business site.

i. To apply for a TUP, submit application form + $1000 application fee. The Town will then gather views of local residents by issuing a Notice of Application to property owners situated within a 50-metre radius of the business, and also by publishing a Notice of Application in the local newspaper. Based on public feedback and other factors, Town staff will recommend that Council approve or deny the TUP.

ii. To apply for site-specific rezoning, submit application form + fee ($1,000 + $100 per 300 m2 of land, up to a maximum of $10,000).  As with a TUP application, the Town will gather views of local residents by issuing a Notice of Application to property owners situated within a 50-metre radius of the business, and also by publishing a Notice of Application in the local newspaper. Additionally, a rezoning application will be given a Public Hearing and four readings by council. Based on feedback from the public and other factors, Town staff will recommend that Council approve or deny the rezoning application.

Once a cannabis retail applicant has successfully obtained a TUP or site-specific rezoning, a Town of Gibsons business licence will be issued. A business licence for retail use costs $160 for a retail space of up to 1000 ft2 and an additional $8 for each additional 100 ft2.

Part B) Apply to the Province of BC for non-medicinal cannabis retail licence.

This is a 4-stage process:

i. Applicants submit licence application + fee to LCRB. (The Province collects a $7,500 application fee for a cannabis retail store and an annual license fee of $1,500. Additionally, a referral from the LCRB costs $1,000.)

ii. LCRB notifies local government that an application has been received.

iii. Local government may then:

a. Choose not to make any recommendation, which would effectively end the licence application, or
b. Choose to make comments, either denying or recommending the application.

As part of the local government process to review LCRB referrals, the Town will gather views of residents by issuing a Notice of Application to property owners situated within a 100-meter radius of the business, and also by publishing a Notice of Application in two consecutive issues of a local newspaper.

iv. Licence is issued or denied by the LCRB.

If the local government chooses not to make any recommendation, or makes a recommendation to deny the application, the LCRB may not issue the licence. If the local government recommends the application, then the LCRB must consider the recommendation, but has discretion over whether or not to issue the licence.

Do residents have a chance to comment during the retailer licensing process?

Yes. If the Town decides to consider an application for a cannabis store, it must gather the views of residents of the proposed retail area by using one or more of the following methods:

  • Receiving written comment in response to public notice of the application;
  • Conducting a public hearing in respect of the application;
  • Holding a referendum; or
  • Using another method the Town considers appropriate.