The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board voted unanimously in favour of the first cannabis store application to come across their table.
At their Thursday, Jan. 16 meeting, the directors agreed to voice their approval of the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch issuing a licence to Copper Island Cannabis Co, allowing a store to open in a separate building on the same property as the Blind Bay Village Grocer.
The board’s decision was informed by public consultation which the CSRD conducted in order to gauge residents’ opinions on the proposed store. The consultation took the form of a survey and a public meeting.
Fifty-five per cent of the Area C residents who responded to the consultation were in favour while 42 per cent were opposed and three per cent were neutral. According to the CSRD, those who identified themselves a Blind Bay residents were closer to a 50/50 split.
CSRD staff had recommended the board approve the application. The staff’s report noted some of the public’s concerns would be mitigated by provincial regulations that govern onsite cannabis use, odour and security. The regulations are similar to those already in place for liquor outlets.
Electoral Area C director Paul Demenok noted that most of the people responding to the survey and attending the meeting were in favour.
“It is important to recognize that this business is a separate operation from the Village Grocer and its management has gone through an exhaustive application process involving multiple levels of government. They have fulfilled all the requirements to operate a legal business, and will make a contribution to our local economy,” said Demenok.
CSRD board chair Kevin Flynn, who also sits on Salmon Arm’s council, said the city has not received any issues or complaints about the cannabis stores located within its boundaries.
“I can’t think of a better location for this,” he said. “There’s parking, a gas station, grocery store and alcohol sales already on that site. I think it is the perfect spot.”
The final decision on a licence for the site rests with the liquor and cannabis branch, but they will not approve sites that are not supported by local government making, the CSRD’s approval critical.