Legal recreational marijuana is here Oct. 17. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Telkwa plans for pot legalization

Telkwa council discussed $50,000 grant, cannabis bylaws and the UBCM convention last Monday.

Telkwa council started preliminary discussions about bylaws for recreational marijuana last council meeting.

“We’re looking at what B.C. has said what they would have happen in terms of the legislation for the province, and trying to make sure we’re not caught off guard when legalization happens because some of the provincial limitations aren’t aligned with what Telkwa would want to see,” Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen said.

Council broke the discussion at its last meeting June 25 into three parts: consumption, retail and production.

In terms of consumption, council has directed staff to look into banning public consumption of marijuana with the exception of an event or situation where alcohol was allowed for public consumption.

As of now the only event in Telkwa that allows public consumption of alcohol is the Kinsmen Telkwa Barbeque. The Village needs to meet with the Kinsmen to discuss this issue before moving forward with any by law, Repen said.

The Province seems to be legislating marijuana like tobacco in terms of public consumption, but Telkwa plans to treat it like alcohol, Repen said.

“[The council’s] feeling is the similarities are closer between alcohol consumption and marijuana consumption in many ways than it is with tobacco,” Repen said. “You can smoke a cigarette while you’re driving, you can’t smoke a joint while you’re driving, you can’t be driving drunk.”

Council has not made any decision about people smoking marijuana on bar patios. The mayor said he isn’t sure a municipality would have any jurisdiction on dictating whether or not that could happen.

In terms of cannabis retail, council has deferred any decision to allow Village staff to research the topic.

On the production side of things, council feels the location best suited for that would be in the airport industrial zone and has directed staff to look into the matter.

Outside of the Maple Leaf medical marijuana production site being built at Woodmere Nursery just outside of Telkwa, there hasn’t been a major production push in the village, Repen said.

The mayor said no bylaws have been written yet and welcomes ideas from the public regarding these issues.

Anyone wishing to take part in these discussions can do so by speaking during the public comment portion of Telkwa council meetings or by writing the Village a letter. Businesses or groups can form a delegation to speak to council regarding these issues as well.

Recreational marijuana use will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17.

Water and sewer plan

The Village of Telkwa has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for its Water and Sewer Asset Management System Strategy.

FCM is an advocacy group that represents 90 per cent of Canada’s municipal population. Telkwa received the grant from FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP).

MAMP is a $50 million program that helps Canadian municipalities make informed infrastructure investment decisions based on sound asset management practices, the FCM’s website said.

“I’m really happy that we got that funding,” Repen said. “[It will] give us a better of idea in the long run of what our capital expenses and capital replacement costs will be so that we can continue to go to the Province for the funding to actually build things.”

Repen said this funding combined with a $15,000 grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) gives the Village $65,000 for its asset management program.

Reliable revenue request

Council also discussed arranging meetings with Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson at the UBCM convention.

The mayor said the Village’s number one priority is to get a more reliable source of revenue than grant applications and grant funding.

Telkwa’s biggest challenge is businesses would rather operate in Smithers, which forces the Village to have a 92 per cent residential tax base. Only two other communities in B.C. have a higher residential tax portion Repen said.

Telkwa will bring forth a resolution asking for support from UBCM on this issue, with the support of other communities in a similar situation like Granisle, to the convention.

“There’s such a huge difference between municipalities in B.C.,” Repen said. “Some of those municipalities that are at the bottom end of that are not able to fund their operating budgets nevermind any capital improvements.”

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