File photo                                White Rock will hold public hearings on permitting cannabis dispensaries and adult entertainment establishments in city limits.

File photo White Rock will hold public hearings on permitting cannabis dispensaries and adult entertainment establishments in city limits.

White Rock cannabis and adult entertainment bylaws to move to public hearings

Council will seek input on potential of allowing contentious businesses in city limits

White Rock council has given first and second readings to bylaw amendments concerning cannabis dispensaries and adult entertainment venues in the city.

At Monday night’s meeting council authorized the amendments to move ahead to public hearings.

White Rock is effectively banning cannabis dispensaries from any land use zone in the city as an “interim regulatory measure” in anticipation of nationwide legalization in July 2018.

And while amendments to the city’s existing zoning and business bylaws spell out new definitions for ‘adult entertainment’ venues – as permitted town centre uses – they include specific limitations that confine them to two small commercial plazas in the uptown area, and may effectively preclude applications coming forward.

“The parameters are very narrow,” planning and development services director Carl Johannsen told Peace Arch News following the meeting, adding that no applications for such businesses are currently under consideration by the city.

Cannabis dispensaries might not be banned from the city forever, according to a report from Johannsen received by council.

In it, he says the bylaw is “intended to provide Council and the community with an opportunity to consider appropriate regulations for cannabis-related land use activities, and to prevent businesses from setting up in contravention of existing bylaws.”

In response to Coun. Helen Fathers, who asked whether council would have to wait until after legalization to determine city policy to cannabis dispensaries, Johannsen said it is expected that the province will be clarifying its approach to cannabis distribution prior to legalization.

He added that this may include a decision to distribute cannabis through BCLC outlets, noting that there are currently none in White Rock.

But he agreed that council would still have authority to determine land uses in the city, and would have the power to regulate such a business.

“It may not be something you want to see in the city,” he said.

“We can’t stop its use, but we could stop it as a business,” Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted.

Johanssen reported that staff, responding to a council resolution, have reviewed the regulation of adult entertainment uses within the context of White Rock’s commercial land base and OCP goals and policies.

Under the proposed bylaw amendments such venues would not have liquor licenses; would be prohibited to those under age 19; could not be within 500 metres of a school, could only operate between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. and any entertainment could not be visible from outside the establishment.

The minimum lot width for a building offering adult entertainment would also have to be at least 45 metres, and such an establishment would have to be set back at least 30 metres from any public road (and 50 metres from Johnston Road) Johannsen says.

“This approach limits the possible locations of adult entertainment uses to the automobile-oriented shopping plazas on North Bluff Road,” he notes.

A map on monitors at the meeting showed only two possible locations, at 15160 North Bluff Road (Central Plaza) and 1588 Johnston (Royal Plaza).

But existing entertainment venues may also be affected by the new bylaw amendments, Johannsen’s report suggests.

While the city’s current business bylaw doesn’t require a license for entertainment held in a licensed theatre or licensed premises, the new business bylaw amendment would require anything the city deems adult entertainment to be licensed.