City of Powell River Council will recommend the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch approve a non-medical cannabis retail licence with the store to be situated in Crossroads Village Shopping Centre.
There were objections, however, from residents in the area of the proposed store, and from two city councillors.
At the May 7 city council meeting, corporate officer Chris Jackson said a number of pieces of correspondence had been received stating concerns and opposition to the location of the store. He said the proponent also included correspondence to address the concerns. Jackson said the information had been sent out to city council members previous to the council meeting.
Councillor Cindy Elliott said some folks commented in their correspondence that they didn’t think this was a great location for this type of store. She said current regulations, where the interior of the store is blocked from view and underage people won’t be going inside, are sufficient to provide protection of young people.
“We have cannabis stores in just as prevalent locations already, including the BC Cannabis Store right next to the Panago Pizza,” said Elliott. “I’m in favour of the application.”
Councillor Rob Southcott said many of the concerns in the letters he read were addressed in public hearings and community engagement leading up to development of council’s policy on cannabis.
“These concerns have already been looked at by a broad cross section of our community,” said Southcott. “There was ample opportunity for comment at that time. Generally speaking, most of these concerns were considered during those engagements.”
Southcott said the letters all came from the neighbourhood and he respects the feelings of those people. He added, however, that the proposed location is bright, open and probably fairly easy for surveillance by the police.
“I do support the recommendation,” said Southcott.
Councillor Maggie Hathaway asked whether there is a maximum number of cannabis stores permitted in Powell River. Manager of planning services Jason Gow said there was a maximum discussed but at the end of the day, because of the areas where these stores are permitted, and the separation distance required between stores and other community locations, such as schools and playgrounds, the city is getting very close to “maxing out.”’
Hathaway said this proposed location is very close to a residential area. Most of the other cannabis stores, she said, are in the middle of commercial areas.
“I’m tending to lean towards maybe we have enough,” said Hathaway. “We have a fair number already.”
She said she was also swayed by neighbours not being in favour.
Councillor Jim Palm said there were a number of emails not supporting the application that council was considering. Palm said there had previously been a business adjacent to the proposed cannabis store that served liquor and neighbours had encountered problems.
“It’s not the right thing to do, based on the feedback,” said Palm. “I’m glad councillor Hathaway asked the question on what is the magic number we’re aiming for in this small, semi-isolated community. How many of these stores do we need? I don’t want one on every street corner.
“I’m not supportive of the application. Because of the close proximity to residents and the number of negative emails, I’m not in favour of approving it here tonight.”
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said this is a retail space that has very strict security measures. She said she was not concerned about the store.
Councillor George Doubt said he read all of the letters and the proponent’s response to the emails. He said the store had originally requested being open until 11 pm and changed that to 9 pm.
“I’ve read the letters from the people who have said there is already a problem with people gathering in the dark area of the parking lot behind Quality Foods, and smoking and making noise there, currently, without the cannabis store,” said Doubt. “It’s something that could be taken care of by policing or more lighting in the area.”
Doubt said he thinks there are existing problems with noise and people gathering in the parking lot and doesn’t think that should affect the application for this store.
“I’m going to support this because I think most of the issues there are beyond simply what is going to happen when the cannabis store is there,” said Doubt.
The motion to recommend the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch approve the application carried, with Hathaway and Palm opposed.
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