Tofino pumps brakes on cannabis ban

Tofino pumps brakes on cannabis ban

District will host Open House and launch online engagement process.

Tofino’s municipal council is pumping the brakes on its proposed cannabis ban, at least for now

Instead, it will solicit more feedback from the community both online and in person.

Council had hosted a public hearing about the bylaw amendment on Feb. 13 and heard mixed reviews from locals with the majority who spoke being opposed to the ban.

The district will now re-open the public engagement process that will include an open house event as well as an online engagement process. A date for the open house and format for online feedback was not immediately made clear.

Coun. Cathy Thicke suggested the district must ensure youth and parents are involved in the conversation.

“How is it that our council and our community is going to capture those young persons?” she asked. “We’ve heard from those people who have loud and energetic voice, but how are we going to capture the voices of the young and vulnerable who are affected as well?”

She suggested council “actively solicit some responses” from anyone responsible for youth in the community, including the Wickaninnish Community School Society and Parent Advisory Council.

Mayor Josie Osborne said actively soliciting feedback from all areas of the community was a good idea.

“I think there are many voices to be heard and that’s an important part of getting balanced feedback,” she said adding council heard a need for increased engagement during Feb. 13’s public hearing.

“This is not a council that’s opposed to cannabis. This is a council that wants to do the best job possible soliciting feedback from the community to make sure that we take care of everybody’s interests.”

Coun. Al Anderson cautioned against focusing on any specific group.

“You tend to get results that skew a process when you say we want extra feedback here or there,” he said. “It’s important that youth are considered, but a call for feedback and input at an open house or public hearing needs to cast a broad net and not necessarily be focused on the parents.”

Osborne said that would not be an issue as the entire community would be invited to particpate in the discussion.

Anderson added that Tofino has a smoking bylaw on the books that prohibits tobacco use in public spaces like playgrounds and asked whether marijuana could be added to that.

District CAO Bob MacPherson said that it would.

“The province is going to have its own regulations about where cannabis cannot be consumed…This is a new area of law and regulation that senior levels of government are still working their way through,” he said.

“That’s actually one of the challenges. We hear about this idea of cannabis tourism, but you go and buy cannabis in Seattle and you can’t smoke it on the street, you can’t smoke it in your car, you can’t smoke it on the sidewalk or a park and you go back to your hotel and all hotels are non-smoking pretty much now. So, it is a bit of a funny thing. I don’t think there’s a really good answer to it.”