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Bowen could be doing away with the island-wide pot selling prohibition

The rezoning would allow cannabis retail wherever retail is allowed on Bowen but the provincial need for a licence still gives the municipality the capacity to control where a cannabis store opens
Happy Isle Cannabis Company sign
Happy Isle Cannabis Company opened in May 2019.

Bowen Island Municipal Council is looking at removing the island-wide prohibition on cannabis retail. 

It unanimously passed first reading of a rezoning Jan. 11 that allows selling cannabis anywhere on Bowen where retail is a primary land use (parts of the Cove and surroundings, Village Square and part of Seymour Bay). 

“Our goal with this bylaw would be to allow it where we allow retail use so not as a home occupation and not associated with a farm,” clarified BIM's manager of planning and development Daniel Martin.  

The Land Use Bylaw amendment modifies the prohibition on the “cultivation, production, packaging, storage, distribution, dispensing, trading or selling of cannabis” BIM imposed in 2018 upon the legalization of cannabis in Canada (as many municipalities did so as to control where pot shops could open). Currently, a business needs to rezone its property so that it is “expressly and specifically” permitted to sell non-medical marijuana or acquire a temporary use permit.

However, the rezoning doesn’t mean BIM loses say in whether or not a pot shop can open. Cannabis stores require annually renewed provincial licences. The province won’t issue such a licence without a positive recommendation from the local government, indicated a BIM staff report.

The move comes as Happy Isle Cannabis Company applied for a rezoning for its Dorman Rd. shop (which currently has a temporary use permit) but upon referral to municipal committees, the suggestion was for a broader rezoning (still brought forward by Happy Isle). 

The staff report said that over Happy Isle’s tenure, RCMP and bylaw services “have expressed no concerns and found no evidence of complaints or any calls of concern from the neighbourhood.”

“They’ve been very good corporate citizens,” said Mayor Gary Ander. “I haven’t seen any issues there at all.”

The bylaw now passes to committee referrals, legal consultation and a public open house before coming back for second reading.