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Three more cannabis shops approved, but not without opposition

City council has approved three more retail cannabis outlets in the city.

Not all of the applications, however, are being met with open arms.

“I am not against the legalization of cannabis,” wrote Ryan and Amada Yorston in a letter to city council, opposing Cariboo Cannabis’ application for a shop at 100 Tabor Boulevard. “I am against setting up a cannabis shop in a Residential Neighborhood with surrounding schools, school bus routes and playgrounds.”

Dr. Terah M. Albertson, DMD, who operates a dental practice in the area, also voiced opposition to the proposal.

“Recreational cannabis poses significant negative risks to the general and oral health of the public, especially young people,” wrote Albertson. “I am not here to argue this point. This is fact, I see it in my practice often, and this also the position of the Canadian dental association. I believe it is irresponsible to allow these kinds of shops in our city, especially when the sole benefit is monetary gain for the business owner and government entities. If you value the health of the public, the risks far outweigh the benefits in this situation.”

Albertson being sandwiched between a cannabis store and a liquor store affects the reputation of the dental practice.

Steven Burke, Chairman – Zion Lutheran Church and Christian School, also voiced opposition to the shop, which is located 21 metres from the church and school.

“Our school is small and any negative influences can have a significant impact when families are choosing a location to send their children for their education,” wrote Burke.

Cariboo Cannabis is owned and operated by Cale Rusnell, Mark Nelson and Blair Traxler.

“Cariboo Cannabis will provide safe and legal access to the emerging retail Cannabis market,” according to its submission to council. “We will adhere to all provincial and municipal laws and requirements. Our staff will comply with all LCRB requirements including training and security clearance regulations. In addition, our staff will be educated about the products sold at Cariboo cannabis. Cariboo cannabis will engage with the neighbouring community to ensure that as the retail cannabis market grows and evolves, we are listening and adapting to the changing marketplace.”

Several residents spoke for and against the application and Mayor Lyn Hall pointed out, for council, it is a land use issue.

“I can appreciate the neighbours’ concerns,” said Coun. Brian Skakun. “There’s a lot more than pot smoking going on in any one of our community parks now. You find needles, you find all sorts of things.”

He said young people can buy cannabis at schools, so having licenced retail operations is an opportunity to “do it right.”

He said the three-year temporary approval gives council the opportunity to review the application at any time.

“I think the applicants have demonstrated the safety precautions that are needed,” said Coun. Terri McConnachie. “It’s a low-risk activity. You have to be 19 years old or older to access inside (the store).”

Hall said it was a difficult decision to make.

“There is certainly a heartfelt concern around the neighbourhood,” Hall said. “There are people who have expressed positive reaction to the potential of this location. For me it’s about the actual location itself … Given the surrounding area in that mall, we’ve seen a liquor establishment in that location for a number of years and I think that proved to be OK.”

He added the city’s process of granting a temporary use permit is a fair process.

“With the temporary use permit it gives us the opportunity, over the next three years, to look at the operation of this facility,” Hall said. “But it also gives the people who are applicants an opportunity to see whether or not it will fly or fall.”

Council approved the temporary use permit, along with permits for Earth to Sky Cannabis Company Ltd., for PRP Holdings Ltd., Inc. No. BC0951609, at 1533 Third Avenue and to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for Spruceland Shopping Centre Inc., Inc. No. 360048 for a temporary use permit for a retail cannabis shop at 737 Central Street.

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