Parksville council has voted to support four applications for new non-medical cannabis retail stores in the city, allowing applicants to further their proposal to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB).
The four stores are proposed for 826 Island Highway (BC Cannabis), 491 Island Highway East (Buddha Farm), 3A-154 Middleton Avenue (Oceanside C-Weed) and 102-124 Craig Street (Kaya Connection).
Applicants must meet the city’s requirements before they’re given the opportunity to seek a positive resolution from council, which is then forwarded to the province.
“At the moment, the province is saying they won’t entertain any applications without that from council,” said city CAO Keeva Kehler.
Kehler said all applicants for retail cannabis have to sign a Good Neighbour Agreement which is essentially a contract between the city and the applicant.
The Good Neighbour Agreement includes regulations such as prohibiting minors from entering the premises, prohibiting the consumption of cannabis on the property and ensuring there will be no tolerance for criminal activity within or adjacent to the premises.
“[Applicants] work with our bylaw compliance department to make sure they have met all requirements so we would be able to issue them a business licence. We won’t issue them a business licence until the provincial government issues them a licence to operate,” Kehler said. “What council is looking at today is basically the input from the community that we are required to do to fulfill the provincial requirements, and then staff actually vet the applications through our zoning requirements and make sure that they provide the odour control plan, Good Neighbour Agreement, criminal record checks through the police and those items have to be addressed before we would allow the person to go to public consultation and bring it to council.”
Ultimately all applications received a positive resolution from council.
The BC Cannabis Store at 826 Island Highway received unanimous support. City director of community planning and building, Blaine Russell, said no public comments were received regarding this application.
“My decision is based on the fact it’s being run by the BC Government branch as well as the fact that with the amount of emails and phone calls I’ve received, I did not receive one negative complaint or comment at this location,” said Coun. Doug O’Brien.
Buddha Farm at 491 Island Highway East also received no public comments regarding its application. Councillors voted 5-2 in favour of the proposal, with Coun. Teresa Patterson and O’Brien in opposition.
Oceanside C-Weed at 3A-154 Middleton Avenue was passed with a vote of 4-3, with Coun. Adam Fras, Patterson and O’Brien opposed.
“This application I’m not in support of based primarily on the location and the feedback that has come from the community,” Fras said. “Now that there’s been legalization of marijuana, these applications are coming forward and I think it’s great we can invite it into our community but I think taking a measured approach is an important way to do it. What that means for me is looking at medical use in the downtown areas and non-medical use (recreational) out of the downtown core.”
Fras added that he’d feel more comfortable with retail cannabis shops in the downtown area if there were consumption sites available.
“I don’t have problems with recreational marijuana being sold in our community. When I talk about a measured approach, what I’d like to see, and maybe the provincial government just isn’t at that point yet, is there is no place to purchase marijuana and consume it like you would have at a vapour lounge,” Fras said. “I think if that was coupled into it I would be a lot more comfortable.”
Mayor Ed Mayne said he was in support of the application and believes the proponent has met all the guidelines to operate a retail cannabis business.
“We endorsed what the previous council said in November of what was acceptable and what wasn’t acceptable for a location for a cannabis retail outlet. It had specific measurements from schools, from parks,” Mayne said. “We had the chance at that time, we can’t come back now and say we’ve changed our mind. We made our rules and we have to stick with them unless we want to change all of the zoning on this.”
Kaya Connection at 102-124 Craig Street was also passed 4-3, with Fras, Patterson and O’Brien opposed.
“My comments for this would be the same,” Fras said. “Craig Street is where we have our Craig Street markets, [Kaya Connection’s] business hours would be open during the same time. Without a place to consume marijuana, they’re purchasing it and going back out to the market. I think that kind of atmosphere isn’t the right mix for it.”