City council is continuing to update a multitude of bylaws with the incoming legalization of cannabis.
Last week at the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, members gave feedback on the proposed changes to the bylaws and saw them come to council for their first reading.
At Monday’s city council meeting changes were noted to some of the bylaws.
The Smoking Bylaw includes a ban on smoking in public places, with the exception of smoking tobacco in designated areas.
The Community Standards Bylaw, which had a requirement to clear snow from sidewalks from 72 hours moved to 48 hours has been changed back to 72 hours, as well as the inclusion of cannabis under Section 7, which is littering.
“Administration had looked at the possibility of moving to 48 hours, I think in discussion with council and administration we felt could we deliver within 48 hours? It was going to be a bit of a stretch, so we said if the city can’t deliver in 48 hours how can we expect residents to? So we tried to be reasonable to all parties,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
The Business License Bylaw was also brought to council after changes were made to it to include the addition of cannabis retailer operations and application fees, as well as additional fees for alcohol retailers.
There are still items within this bylaw that council is looking to discuss further.
“We have the ability to set the fees for business licenses, and certainly we can’t make them so exorbitant that people won’t be able to carry on business or it’s prohibited. But, by the same token the business licenses, the new businesses that are coming to town will have a cost impact on our taxpayers,” explained Aalbers.
As of now, in the bylaw it states the business license fee for a cannabis retail store is $750, the same price for liquor or tobacco retailers.
However, Coun. Jonathan Torresan said the fee should be higher because of the extra costs legalizing cannabis has on municipalities.
“One of the things I’d really like to hear from residents at the Your Voice night is whether or not they feel it’s appropriate to charge higher business licenses for cannabis retailers to deal with the additional costs that come with having those retailers in the city,” said Torresan.
He also noted the policing side of things and the additional costs to municipalities.
“There are additional capital requirements that the city is going to need to pay for, that’s so far pretty clear the provinces are not willing to share any of the revenue that’s coming from cannabis sales,” he said
Torresan added that he feels the businesses are disproportionately benefiting from cannabis sales.
“We have the opportunity to add those fees, and I think it may be appropriate,” he said.
The city will host a Your Voice night on April 19 for feedback from residents.