It's Time to Talk about Cannabis in Tofino


The District of Tofino is developing a process for Temporary Use Permit appliations to open cannabis retail operations in Tofino.

Thank-you to everyone who has participated so far! Stay tuned for more information about licences, applications and locations.

After a century of prohibition, the pending legalization of recreational cannabis will be a significant societal change that requires forethought, attention and care to ensure a smooth implementation. Currently, it is only legal to purchase and consume cannabis with a medical prescription and by mail order from a licensed producer. Legalization will mean that all adults in BC over the age of 19 will be able to purchase certain cannabis products for their own use.

Many of the decisions surrounding cannabis legalization will be made by the provincial and federal governments. The District of Tofino is committed to making sure that this change happens in a way that respects the unique needs and values of our community.


Social Benefit of Cannabis Retail Operations

Staff were given direction to investigate ways in which the District could derive social benefit from recreational cannabis sales in Tofino (Resolution No. 347/18). To this end, staff engaged the services of Propellor Social Enterprise Advisors to develop and review possible options for Tofino seeing social benefits from non-medical cannabis retail sales.

View the reports from Staff and Propeller at item 8.5 of the September 25th Agenda.

Temporary Use Permits?

The District of Tofino is developing a policy for Temporary Use Permits to allow cannabis retail operations under certain conditions and for a limted duration while the community assesses the impacts of this new use.

Proponents would then apply through the public rezoning process for permanent land use designations permitting cannabis sales. (Learn more from reports linked below).

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1238.01, 2018

This Bylaw prohibits the use of any land, building, or structure for the sale, production, or distribution of cannabis. A process is under development to allow a small number of cannabis retail stores to apply for Temporary Use Permits (see below).

*New* Smoking Regulation Bylaw

Smoking Regulation Bylaw No. 1249, 2018 prohibits smoking or vaping (tobacco, cannabis, etc.) within 6 m of outdoor public places such as parks, beaches, workplaces, etc.



No Sale, Production, or Distribution: On June 26th, 2018,  District of Tofino Council passed Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1238, 2018, which prohibits the use of any land, building, or structure for the sale, production, or distribution of cannabis. Please review the staff reports below for more information about this Bylaw.

No Smoking or Vaping: On May 22, 2018, District of Tofino Council passed District of Tofino Smoking and Vaping Regulation Bylaw No. 1249, 2018 which prohibits smoking or vaping of any substance (cannabis, tobacco, etc.) in many outdoor public places. Learn more about District Smoking and Vaping Regulations in the infographic:


Local Government: Local governments’ role in the regulation of recreational cannabis is becoming clearer, but it is not yet fully defined.

To sell non-medical cannabis in British Columbia, retailers will be required to obtain a licence from the Province, and comply with local regualtions. To date, it is understood that in BC, local governments will have power to regulate cannabis retail locations through zoning and business licensing powers. On June 26th, 2018, the District of Tofno passed Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1238, 2018, which prohibits any building from being used for the sale, production or distribution of non-medical cannabis in Tofino. 

Interested retailers will have to apply to Council to obtain a Temporary Use Permit that will allow non-medical cannbis sales. This application process is currently under development and is anticipated to be open in the coming months. 

Federal Government:
The federal government is involved with most questions around cannabis legalization, such as possession limits, taxation, regulatory compliance, and education. It is also establishing minimum regulatory standards that each province may uphold or further restrict.

For more information about federal jurisdiction, Click Here.

Provincial Government:
To understand the proposed provincial framework, take a look at the B.C. Cannabis Private Retail and Licensing Guide. 


In preparation for the federal government's legalization of non-medical cannabis on October 17, 2018, B.C. has made a number of decisions about what our provincial regulatory framework will look like.

Visit the Provincial Website regularly for updates on B.C.’s approach to non-medical cannabis laws and regulations, and to find further information on the status of the legalization of cannabis in Canada.

In the absence of finalized regulations from the province, it's difficult for the District to give prosptective business owners certainty about the what they can expect. What we do know is that once provincial and local regulations are finalized, business owners will need a provincial permit, a local business licence, and must be in compliance will local zoning regulations. For the Province to issue a permit, applicants must have the support of the local government in the community where the proposed store would be located.


The Provincial Guide provides preliminary information for those who are considering applying for a provincial licence to retail non-medical cannabis. It contains information to help applicants make business decisions and describes the application process, such as:

  • Who is eligible?
  • What is the process for applying for a non-medical cannabis retail licence?
  • What can be sold in retail stores?
  • What security measures will be required for retail stores?
  • What hours can a retail store be open?
  • How long will the application process take?
  • Will there be an application fee?

As Tofino awaits the final regulations from the Province, we are engaging with the community to fine-tune our regulatory framework. 


The District's intentions is not to permanently ban the retail sale of cannabis products in the District, nor is it intended to inhibit lawful home production or medical use. We are currently developing an approach whereby applicants will apply for a Temporary Use Permit to open cannabis retail stores.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1238, 2018, proposed a District wide restriction on the sale of cannabis to allow the District time to consider new applications within the context of future Provincial and Federal regulations. In the absence of finalized regulations from the Province and Federal government, the Bylaw was proposed as an interim means to ensure our community was not caught unprepared for an influx of applications, and to allow the public time to consider how this type of business will fit into our community.

Other communities that have enacted or proposed similar temporary prohibitions on cannabis retail stores include:

  • City of Nelson
  • Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • District of North Cowichan
  • Maple Ridge
  • District of Peachland

Once we've established a Temporary Use Permit process and the provincial regulations are in place, the District will be better able to  regulate the retail sale of cannabis in a way that respects the goals of the wider community.


The District held two public information sessions, distributed two detailed feedback forms, and held a stakeholder roundtable with representatives from community organizations. After listening to what interested community members have said, we compiled the following "What We've Heard" presentation. 

This information is being used to develop a process and criteria for applicants who wish to open a cannabis retail business in Tofino once non-medical cannabis has been legalized by the federal government.



Staff Reports (Agenda Packages below, navigate to the report by searching "Cannabis")

Community Input

Federal and Provincial Information


Aaron Rodgers
Manager of Community Sustinability
250-725-3229 (701)