The city of Kelowna is rejecting a request by the province to open a cannabis store within its borders because it isn’t far enough away from another marijuana shop.
The 5-4 decision by councillors follows a recommendation by city staff to deny approval to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s application because the location is just 110 metres away from a store on the other side of a highway. Kelowna stipulates cannabis stores must be at least 500 metres apart, according to Castanet.
The ruling runs contrary to a council decision two months ago that opposed staff recommendations and approved an application for a store even though it fell within 300 metres of another dispensary. Councillors said the discrepancy could be attributed to an initial scarcity of stores in the area. With more than a dozen new shops on the way, this should be less of an issue soon.
“The one in downtown Kelowna I did support. In that instance, it was because we only had one in what we consider the downtown area,” councillor Luke Stack. “Because of the 18 stores that have been approved… I do agree we need to let some of those open first and see what the impact is. I find it’s easier to make an adjustment down the road to add more than try to subtract.”
But councillor Charlie Hodge said he doesn’t need any more evidence to know the distance requirement between stores is hurting the industry. “I personally found our 500 metre limitation to be punitive for retail,” he said. “We don’t have the same limitation for shoe stores, grocery stores or barber shops. The only thing that comes close is for liquor distribution. It seems to me is what we’re saying is while marijuana is considered legal, we still want to taint it with a negative approach.
“If it’s legal it’s legal, if not, it’s not.”
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Written by David Yasvinski