Tofino mayor Josie Osborne hopes her constituents participate in the district’s public engagement process on marijuana legislation.

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne hopes her constituents participate in the district’s public engagement process on marijuana legislation.

Tofino to talk cannabis legalization at open house event next week

“We want to be careful and cautious and get it right.”

Tofino’s municipal council hasn’t sent its proposed cannabis ban up in smoke just yet, but has delayed making a decision until they can get a clearer picture of what their community wants them to do.

Council is inviting the community to share their thoughts on cannabis at an open house event on March 20 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Tofino’s Best Western Tin Wis Resort. The district has also launched a website where more information can be found and feedback provided.

“Cannabis legalization is a bit of a game changer,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne. “Municipalities have never gone through this kind of thing before, so we want to be careful and cautious and get it right. We understand there are some who want us to go really quickly and there are some who, probably, don’t want us to go at all on the subject of cannabis.”

Canada’s federal government is expected to legalize cannabis this summer, but concerns over where retail marijuana would fit in Tofino’s zoning bylaws caused the town’s council to consider passing a temporary ban on the sale and distribution of cannabis, Locals clamoured against that proposed ban at a Feb. 13 public hearing, prompting council to launch a revamped community consultation process.

Osborne said March 20’s open house will follow an unstructured format with no presentations scheduled.

“We think it’s really important to hear from all parts of the community and to get people in the room together listening to different perspectives,” she said. “We’re not going to go in with preconceived questions, it’s more just to elicit some of the values and principles that people have around cannabis or around their concerns about cannabis.”

Osborne said Tofino has decided to take a “cautious approach” with cannabis legalization and that the ideas heard at the open house will be reviewed by the district so that potential options can be investigated and presented to the community at a future, second, open house.

“We understand well that [cannabis legalization] is happening and that, by in large, it’s probably a good thing. But, we want to be cautious and careful and we want to slowly peel back the prohibitions that we have been in place so that we can make sure things go well and there aren’t any unintended consequences,” she said.

“People may not agree entirely with what we end up coming up with, but they need to be a part of the decision making process.”