Non-medicinal cannabis companies looking to set up in North Saanich could pay as much as $500 in a proposed business fee.
The new fee is on the table at council’s Monday, March 26 meeting, as councillors look at new bylaw amendments that help align North Saanich with the province on cannabis business zoning.
According to a staff report, North Saanich in 2015 amended its zoning and business bylaws to be consistent with the Agricultural Land Commission Act (ALCA). That Act permits medical marijuana production on ALR land. Now, the District is looking to align its bylaws with federal Bill C-45 (the Cannabis Act) and Bill C-46 (an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada). Those two bills — which will in essence legalize recreational cannabis — are expected to pass in Ottawa later this year.
North Saanich’s proposed changes would adjust wording in their bylaws to reflect the changes in law. Currently, the District’s bylaws refer only to medicinal marijuana production and sales on ALR land. On the table is a change from language referring to “medical marijuana”, to “ALR Cannabis production and sale”.
North Saanich would still have a general prohibition on land uses involving cannabis, with the exemption for ALR land. The staff report points out that the municipality does not have the jurisdiction to overrule provincial and federal land use regulations. The BC Liberals, when they held government, made cannabis production on ALR land possible when they amended that ALCA in 2015.
North Saanich’s business license fees range from $75 (home-based) to $450 (winery). The proposed $500 fee could be the District’s highest fee. The staff report says it’s based on the “estimated staff time required to process an application” by a cannabis company. They looked at Whistler’s fee ($165) and the City of Kelowna ($510), by way of example. The report also points out that while the City of Vancouver does not have a business license fee for cannabis production, it does ave a $30,000 retail dealers business license fee.
North Saanich’s council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the chambers on Mills Road.