City Council chose at the last regular meeting not to review Merritt’s current buffer zones for cannabis shops, whether that would have involved increasing or decreasing them.

After research done by City of Merritt staff, Merritt’s current cannabis shop buffer zone bylaw was not found to be an outlier in any direction compared to similar municipalities. The City of Penticton

Depending on the buffer, whether it be required spacing from schools, parks, other retail cannabis shops, etc., Merritt’s current zoning bylaw is between 100-150 metres.

Of the other communities considered, just over half, or seven of the twelve, had some sort of buffer zone requirement. Though there was consistency as to what sort of properties would require a buffer zone, the distances varied considerably between the municipalities, anywhere from 50 metres to 300 metres.

“So we are literally right smack dab in the middle,” said Greg Lowis, Director of Corporate Services, who added that because of this and the wide range of almost arbitrarily chosen distances, City staff would recommend that Council vote not to propose any changes.

Councillor Tony Luck was the first to agree.

“There’s no consistency, there’s nothing here. Quite frankly, I think that City staff has better things to do right now than worry about buffer zones…I know we’ve got a lot of other work that needs to be done.”

Travis Fehr echoed his fellow councillor’s words.

“Just the fact that these buffer zones vary so widely, I don’t think that there’s really any objective way to know how much a buffer zone is helps or does not help. There’s probably good arguments on both sides of the point… but it’s not something we should spend much more time on.”

Councillor Melvina White was in opposition of putting the matter to bed.

“Without some kind of rules, we’ve got no limit on how many can go in, so if three more want to open down there (Quilchena Ave.), we’ve got a whole street of cannabis stores.”

Director Lewis did remind Council, however, that any new business license for a cannabis shop has to go through Council consultation.

“It is always up to Council to decide if you feel, on any basis, if a new store in any particular locations is not beneficial to the community.”