The city framework on retail cannabis stores could see some changes as council looks at making amendments shifting the policy to a cap system allowing 14 outlets in the city.
While the policy setbacks from schools and the guidelines on storefront look and feel will remain, the amendments, if passed by council, would see the removal of the buffers between the stores and allow a maximum of seven stores in the downtown. A sunset clause would also be added, where the cap system is removed in its entirety by June 30, 2022.
“This approach allows a greater amount of competition between stores, by removing the artificial buffer, without overwhelming the community,” said Blake Laven, planning manager, in the city staff report, adding that stores would still be limited to commercial zones.
In April, Penticton city council approved four out of eight proposed cannabis retail store locations — Green Gaia (210 Main St.), Cannabis Cottage (385 Martin St.), Spiritleaf (2695 Skaha Lake Rd.) and B.C. (provincial) Cannabis Store (103-2050 Main St.) to receive recommendations of support from the city to the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. They chose to defer their decision to either support or deny applications from Zen Canna (2050 Main St.), Green Essence (101-437 Martin St.), Greenery Cannabis Boutique (465 Main St.) and Bluewater Cannabis (130 Nanaimo Ave. W.).
A zoning amendment will be before council on Tuesday to add a site specific use for another cannabis retail store at 1652 Fairview Rd., for Fairview Cannabis Corner. The area is a commercial plaza where a liquor store, Cloverdale Paint, Trellis and Vine Crafthouse and Ellis Creek Kitchens & Baths are among the established businesses.
According to the city, during the public consultation process that helped create the cannabis framework, there was a strong desire to limit the overall number of cannabis stores in Penticton and ensure that stores were dispersed throughout the community. This presented the challenge of who gets the first location that would establish the buffer. A merit-based approach was used to score each store, but that has opened the city up to criticism as council was being asked to deny strong applications because they did not conform to the buffer requirements.
“If the full cap of 14 stores is reached the result will likely be more stores than the public may have originally been comfortable with. However, under the adopted policy, the potential was likely for seven to nine stores throughout the community, so the maximum of 14 is not a substantially great number,” said Laven in the report. “Likely the market will ultimately determine the ultimate and appropriate amount of stores in the community, with those zones where the use is permitted.”
The alternatives that are not recommended by staff that will be brought to council is a mix of the merit based approach, reducing the buffers and establishing an overall cap or conduct additional public consultation on the options.
City staff will be presenting council with the amendments and the option to maintain the status quo at their Tuesday city council meeting.
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