Monday, March 12, 2012

No morality crusade in the Township of Langley

Last week I posted how the City of Langley, in their latest proposed zoning amendment, proposes to ban some building uses which are illegal or promote illegal activity mixed in with other proposed banned uses that have more to do with “good moral” values. I’m a firm believer that government shouldn’t regulate the bedroom or what an adult choose to read, watch, or play within what the courts call the community standards test. The community standards test is a test that is not focused on what you would not tolerate being exposed to, but with what you would not tolerate other adults being exposed to.

Anyway that got me looking at what uses are banned in the Township of Langley in their zoning bylaw. The following uses are non-permitted commercial uses in the Township:

(a) Medical marihuana dispensary.
(b) Pool halls.
(c) Casino halls.
(d) Pawnbrokers.
(e) Tattoo shop.
(f) Cheque cashing facilities.

Compare this to the proposed non-permitted uses in the City:

(a) Auto Dismantling and Recycling Yard except that this use shall be permitted on the following properties: [see zoning bylaw]
(b) Selling, offering for sale, trading or dealing in drug paraphernalia.
(c) Adult entertainment stores.
(d) Adult theatres.
(e) Adult video stores.
(f) Arcades.
(g) Body rub parlours.
(h) Cheque cashing establishments.
(i) Currency exchanges.
(j) Escort services.
(k) Exotic entertainment.
(l) Money lending establishments.
(m) Pawnbrokers.
(n) The use of any premises for the selling, distributing, trading, cultivating, growing or producing of cannabis (marihuana) except as permitted and authorized under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada).
(o) The use of any premises, other than facilities operated by or under the supervision of the Fraser Health Authority, for the dispensing of methadone or heroin for use on the premises.
(p) The use of any premises, other than public and private schools, churches and community recreation centres, for public dances to which persons under the age of nineteen.

It seems like the city has gone a bit extreme. One of the interesting things about zoning bylaws is that when you change them; existing uses are grandparented in. According to the Local Government Act:

(1) If, at the time a bylaw under this Division is adopted,
(a) land, or a building or other structure, is lawfully used, and
(b) the use does not conform to the bylaw,
the use may be continued as a non-conforming use, but if the non-conforming use is discontinued for a continuous period of 6 months, any subsequent use of the land, building or other structure becomes subject to the bylaw.

So it seems like all these non-permitted uses that the City is proposing won’t really change anything as it will only apply to future developments. I don’t see many application these day for the things that are on the City’s list as the Internet has replaced conventional retailing for many of the proposed non-permitted uses. Given the fact that some of the non-permitted uses have been on and off this list a few times, it seems to me that out right banning some uses in the whole community is a bit silly.

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