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Posted: December 3, 2018

Council says no to retail cannabis permit

By Stephanie Stevens

The newly elected District of Invermere council members have hit the ground running, but they may have to slow down as they make their way through various shades of grey.

At the November 27 regular meeting, one bit of unfinished business and one report requiring action had little in the way of precedent to guide decision-making.

On the unfinished business side, a submission by ULLR bar in Invermere for a retail cannabis permit received a unanimous vote not to support, and that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch be informed of that.

The decision not to support was not based on a desire to thwart retail cannabis stores, but rather the feeling the location (Unit 210, 890 – 7th Avenue) was not suitable.

“I took a drive up, had a look and did not feel it fit there,” Mayor Al Miller said. “And just to be sure, I took a second drive up but it did not change my mind.”

Coun. Ute Juras echoed Miller’s sentiments, stating, “I don’t think any business would really fit in there.”

With recreational marijuana now legal, council agreed taking the time to ensure all questions are answered is prudent, and going forward into new territory will require taking careful steps.

Extension granted for tiny home

On the staff referrals side, another grey area regarding tiny houses came up.

Chief Administrative Officer Chris Prosser briefly outlined the challenges two residents are facing while trying to build on their land in Athalmer.

The issue lies in part in the cost and challenges of bringing sewer and water to an Athalmer property.

“It was at the time one of the cheapest pieces of property around, but it came with some catches, one of them being there is no sewer or water to it,” he explained.

While trying to navigate those issues, owners Natalie Forrest and Ray Vowels have been living in their micro home, for which council had granted a one-year temporary housing agreement. But that year is up, and no building permits have been applied for.

The problem is tiny homes are not compliant with the B.C. Building Code, nor do they comply with RV standards, and the building code is slated to get even stricter as of Dec. 10.

“It is a real grey area,” said Coun. Gerry Taft. “(Tiny homes) do not meet the building code, but they are not an RV either. They are caught between two worlds. It would be really nice to see them legal.”

Taft added there are two trains of thought regarding housing. One is science based, how to keep people safe and secure, and the other is how to make it attainable for everyone.

“Instead of coming together, they are moving away from each other,” he said.

While tiny homes have been talked about as one of the potential solutions for affordable housing, they do not fit in anywhere, creating a challenge not only for those wanting to live in one, but also for councils trying to make decisions that have no models to base them on.

While there are micro home communities in Texas and Colorado, Prosser said he was unaware of any such community in B.C.

Council voted unanimously to grant a one-year extension and directed staff to encourage the owners to move on getting permits in place.

Miller added that a committee to look at “attainable housing and rentals” will be formed in early 2019.

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