Former school trustee opposes cannabis store location

Bruce Wiebe
Bruce Wiebe

A public hearing on a proposed retail cannabis store in College Heights had only one person speak against the proposal.

Former school board trustee Bruce Wiebe spoke against the application saying he felt the location is too close to College Heights schools plus, being in a shopping mall, it is located where children congregate and will see “role models” purchasing marijuana.

“I don’t believe that location is an appropriate place to sell marijuana to adults,” he said. “It’s an area that has a lot of public access and I don’t think that is the location best suited to selling marijuana.”

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch is hoping open the cannabis store Unit 120 – 6565 Southridge Avenue, where the Royal Bank of Canada used to be located.

According to a letter from the Liquor Distribution Branch the site was chosen for several reasons:

Located in a large retail complex and therefore consistent with the nature of the immediate area;

Easily accessible to customers; and

Not expected to adversely impact traffic in the surrounding area, given its location in an already established retail complex.

The property is currently zoned ‘regional shopping.’ The intent of the zone is to provide a mix of uses for regional shopping areas around the city. The proposed rezoning is a site specific amendment to the regional shopping zone to add “retail, cannabis” as a principal use on the property.

Council was supportive of the application.

“I believe the measures (the province) has put in place for this facility are sound,” said Coun. Susan Scott.

Coun. Cori Ramsay added that the location is more than a kilometre away from any school in the area.

Mayor Lyn Hall said the bylaw the city developed to deal with these proposals allows council to examine each application on its own merit, which is a good thing.

“For me it was about location,” said Hall. “We may see others that we can’t support because of location. For me, this one hits the mark. Last October was a bit of a change because of the legalization of cannabis. I think we’ve made great strides around the (city council) table around how we can come to each, individually, come to grips with that decision by the federal government.”

The size of the proposed cannabis retail store is approximately 2,000 square feet, which is in the midrange of other retail stores existing on the subject site and in the surrounding area, according to the application.

The store will employ between 12 and 20 unionized staff. All employees go through criminal background checks. Store hours may vary by each store location, but most stores will be open from Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.