Penticton city council has voted to approve a previously-rejected cannabis retail store application. The application was initially denied due to its proximity to two other pot stores that had been approved. (Photo from Unsplash)

On second toke, Penticton council changes its mind on cannabis store

Council members heard a presentation from Starbuds co-founder

After much-debate, Penticton city council reneged on it’s previous decision and voted 4-3 to provide support to Starbud’s application to open a cannabis retail store on Main Street.

At the Sept. 3 council meeting, the members rejected the application submitted by Starbuds Canada to open a cannabis retail store at 2150 Main St., citing that the location was too close to other cannabis retail stores that had already been approved. At the time of the decision, the applicant was not allowed to address council.

Dave Martyn, president of and co-founder of Compass Cannabis Clinic and Starbuds Canada, presented to council during the committee of the whole on Sept. 17 to ask the council members to reconsider their decision. He highlighted that the application met all of the city’s requirements set out in their cannabis bylaw.

“Related to our application, we fall into a C4 General Commercial zone, so we meet the zoning requirements. We also meet the requirements because (the location) is not in conflict with a school. There are eight stores approved, two in process as of our recent review of the numbers so we’re under the cap as well,” said Martyn. “Council’s concern previously had been with cannabis retail located close to the location we applied to, however council has approved cannabis retail use more densely in another part of the city.”

READ MORE: Penticton council approves two more cannabis stores

Martyn explained that the proposed site is 140 metres from one proposed site and 250 metres from another, but noted that 427 Martin St., an approved location, is 120 metres from one proposed location and 230 metres from another.

“We (als0) had no public opposition — there was a single comment against us related to, effectively, cannabis retail in the city which is a standard comment we’ve heard,” said Martyn. “So in terms of legal standing, we believe that we’ve met everything required within the bylaw.”

Martyn also said that one of the locations of an approved cannabis retail store “is not under construction and is currently up for sale,” while Starbuds could be open within 60 days of approval, pending an inspection from the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

“I suggest that competitor actively attempting to sell their business will not be in a position to be open,” said Martyn. “based on all of the merits required by council we do believe we meet all of the qualifications.”

He also added that Starbuds Canada is a local business, based out of Kelowna with a focus on Okanagan investors, and that the business was recently awarded the 2019 Start-Up of the Year award at the national O’Cannabis Awards. Last week, the business was also nominated as Retailer of the Year at the Grow Up Awards.

Coun. Frank Regher, Judy Sentes, Campbell Watt and Julius Bloomfield all voiced their support for the application later in the council meeting. Sentes clarified that the city’s framework only restricted a proposed cannabis store’s location to schools, not to other cannabis stores. Bloomfield also added that the reason the city set a cap of 14 pot stores in the city was so they did not need to limit how many were in a certain area.

Coun. Katie Robinson once again echoed her sentiments that council was not taking into consideration the extensive public consultation city staff conducted, which found residents wanted to restrict the amount of cannabis stores in the city. She, alongside Mayor John Vassilaki and Coun. Jake Kimberley, voted against the application.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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