A recent decision by council in the City of Fort St. John, British Columbia has resulted in a cannabis zoning expansion that will open up further opportunities for cannabis retailers to establish a presence in the area, and for the municipality to realize greater economic growth.
Largely driven by local support for the zoning expansion, a public hearing was held, opening up the issue to residents and business owners in Fort St. John.
Until the bylaw was changed, cannabis retailers were limited to operating in zone C-2, which is represented by the city’s downtown core. The bylaw change now permits cannabis retailers to open their businesses in zones C-3 and C-4, which are areas outside of the city’s commercial hub.
Many of the city’s business owners were vocal concerning their support of the bylaw change, citing business and economic optimization within the area as critical reasons behind their support. In fact, a significant number of businesses lent encouragement for the amendment by way of submitted letters.
Optimized Business Environment
Jack Hayes, owner of On the Rocks Liquor wrote, “The city must provide an environment that allows businesses to operate to the best of their abilities. Limiting recreational cannabis to the downtown core denies a key competitive element for these businesses: location.”
Others note that in allowing the cultivation of the right kind of environment in which cannabis businesses can flourish will dramatically impact the viability of the illegal cannabis market, which continues to steadily decrease in the province.
Social and Economic Impact
Members of the Fort St. John city council also referenced the careful and thoughtful monitoring of the social and economic impact of cannabis businesses operating in the area since legalization in 2018. It concluded, supported by a report released in January based on the monitoring that has been taking place, that the presence of cannabis retailers had not resulted in any kind of negative social or economic impact.
In addition, the significant interest that has been expressed by prospective business owners looking to operate within a province where many cities are approaching total saturation has been recognized by the city, as well as the potential that the zoning expansion presents for the city’s economic growth.
The zoning expansion in Fort St. John represents one small win for the city, its residents, and the city’s local cannabis industry. And, as we enter a period during which cannabis retailers everywhere are searching for the smallest foothold toward further growth, the zoning decision made may help set a precedent for other municipalities across the country to follow.
Image courtesy of City of Fort St. John