Salmon Arm retailers selling cannabis products were required to cease sales as of Oct. 17, and apply for a licence through the province’s Liquor Cannabis Regulation Branch. (File photo)

City to support two of first three retail cannabis applications

Salmon Arm council hears from applicants at its Nov. 5 planning meeting, public hearing Nov. 13

Salmon Arm council is supporting two of the city’s first three cannabis retail applications – none of which are for existing marijuana dispensaries.

The three applications were presented to council at the city’s development and planning on Monday, Nov. 5.

The first application, referred by the province’s new Liquor Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) to the city in September, is for a cannabis retail store at 190 Trans-Canada Hwy., in the former UPS location and the same building as Eco-Treats. The applicant is The Greenery Cannabis Boutique, Ltd. and Mike Poulton.

A memo to council from Kevin Pearson, city director of development services, notes the proposed location is within the core commercial area identified in Salmon Arm’s recently adopted Cannabis Retail Stores policy.

The city policy supports a maximum of four cannabis retail stores in the core commercial area.

Related: Salmon Arm council adopts retail cannabis policy

Pearson notes the proposed storefront is within close walking distance to the northwest entrance of Fletcher Park and that, according to new provincial cannabis regulations, “consumption of cannabis is prohibited within public parks with playgrounds and other recreation facilities used by minors.” Otherwise, the proposal meets the city’s official community plan policies, zoning bylaw and Cannabis Retail Stores Policy.

Apart from advising Poulton to speak with neighbours of the business beyond the required 30-metre distance, council was onboard with the application. Coun. Ken Jamieson did ask Poulton about his experience with the application process.

“There’s been a few hiccups along the way but, to be honest, Salmon Arm has, I think handled this really well,” replied Poulton, noting he also has applications for Kelowna and Penticton. “Other municipalities that I’ve been working with have been less clear and also a little bit more complicated.”

The second application is from Zen Canna Retail Corp, which is proposing a cannabis retail business at 51-2801 10th Ave. NE, near the Mac’s Convenience Store and Shell gas station.

This proposal did not receive council’s support.

Related: Salmon Arm pot shops close as cannabis becomes legal in Canada

Pearson noted the proposed storefront just off the Trans-Canada Highway fails to meeting the location criteria of the city’s policy, in that it is within 500 metres as the crow flies of local schools (Bastion Elementary, Salmon Arm Secondary and Broadview Elementary). Salmon Arm RCMP also commented on the proximity to the schools and urged the city to deny the request.

Ian Burek, Zen Canna’s chief operations manager, said the company secured the commercial space prior to the city’s bylaw being passed.

“We feel it’s worth pursuing and, comparative to other municipalities that we’re currently focused on as well, the distances to the sensitive areas are similar and that’s why we thought it could work,” said Burek.

Council, however, was reluctant to vary the city’s new cannabis policy.

“If in the future we determine that our policy isn’t working, then we can change our policy to include this space,” commented Coun. Chad Eliason.

“But right now, we’re being asked to go back on all of the work, all of the public input… I don’t think we can say, hey, here’s our brand new policy, let’s get rid of it.”

Despite the investment already made by Zen Canna into the uptown location, Burek said after the meeting that the company may still pursue an alternative location outside the core commercial area.

The third application, from Salmon Arm Liquor Store Ltd., Gord Erickson and Pat Brede, proposes cannabis retail sales at 111 Lakeshore Dr. NE.

Erickson explained the store would be built within a portion of the Downtown Liquor Store, but would be a self-contained operation with its own, separate entrance and its own specially trained staff.

Pearson noted the location is within the Core Commercial Area which, again, supports up to four LCRB licensed and city-approved cannabis retail stores, and that the proposal meets the city’s zoning bylaw and the Cannabis Retail Store Policy.

Related: Salmon Arm on board with retail cannabis

Council was supportive of the application.

“It is nice to be able to make objective decisions based on the policy that we have, and we talked about, and the community talked about distances from liquor outlets as a possibility when we built our policy…,” commented mayor-elect Alan Harrison.

“We purposefully did not put that into this policy because this liquor outlet, for example, if you said you couldn’t be within 500 metres, you’d pretty well eliminate the downtown for a retail cannabis store which wouldn’t make any sense.”

As part of the provincial process, all three applications are scheduled to go to a public hearing in council chambers at 7 pm. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, after which council can make its official decision on the applications.

The provincial cannabis retail licence application is not the same as a city business licence, and Pearson explains if the former is approved, the latter could then be considered by city staff.

In addition to requiring support from the city, those applying for a provincial licence are subject to a “fit and proper” assessment, which is “comprised of integrity checks and security screenings of the applicant and persons associated with the applicant.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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