Penticton is open for business and that includes allowing retail cannabis outlets to set up shop on Main and Front Streets in the downtown core.
At the same time, Penticton city council has delayed the timeline for processing applications, meaning the opening of any stores won’t happen until well into 2019.
Coun. Judy Sentes spoke against the proposed downtown exclusion zone, making the point that Penticton has made “open for business” part of its mantra.
“We’ve been saying that, the Downtown Penticton Association is saying that, the chamber is saying that,” Sentes said. “I don’t wish for us to make decisions based on what if this bad thing might happen. We don’t do that for any other businesses and I think what we have seen around the province, the storefronts are quite classy, including the provincial store.”
Chris Dawe, the owner of the TPD Boutique on Front Street, said he has not been able to file his provincial application because he was not sure he would have a place to put his store.
“I’m already six months behind the application process because without having a spot secured, I’m not eligible to apply. So this is what they’re doing to me,” said Dawes, prior to the decision by council.
The city stripped Dawes of his business licence after he continued to sell medicinal marijuana products without a provincial licence. He was also fined by the city twice in late November for continuing to operate without a licence.
Dawes said concerns that cannabis shops would negatively affect the retail shopping area are unfounded and based on opinion, not fact. He admits some shops have presented a poor image, but says his shop represented the opposite end of the spectrum.
“It’s the nicest shop on the street and anyone who’s been in my shop will tell you that,” said Dawes, who was selling medicinal oils and salves in his shop, not leaf.
“Even when you’re inside of it, you don’t know that you’re in a place where there may be cannabis for sale. So a very, very nice environment. It was created with intention of creating a welcoming atmosphere,” said Dawes.
During the public hearing Tuesday night, Penticton city council heard from a number of residents, speaking in support of allowing retail cannabis in the downtown core.
William Leggott, who owns Classic Guitars in the 400-block of Main Street, said it was important the city encouraged as much business as could be generated, and cannabis stores would be positive on Main Street.
Daryl Clarke, representing the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, said the exclusion zone seemed to be more based on concern it might draw an undesirable element.
“In some parts of downtown, we do have a crime problem right now. But those aren’t the people that are using these stores,” said Clarke. “The worst these people are going to do is go home and sit on their couch.
“We need to encourage and embrace these stores. Some of the people behind me that have already put in their applications, they’ve got some pretty good ideas.”
Changing the zoning amendment to remove the exclusion zone triggers a new public hearing before the change can proceed.
“I think delaying the process and getting it right is the best thing to do,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield, who moved the change.
That public hearing takes place Jan. 8, which also triggered a move to delay the processing of retail cannabis applications. That was supposed to start Jan. 1, but now won’t get underway until Feb. 1.
Delaying the processing of applications will also allow more applications to be processed in the first group, including one for 210 Main St., currently Bluenose Coins, owned by the same people that recently received approval from Summerland council for a cannabis store there.
Another store may open at 310 Comox St., a residential property council agreed to rezone to general commercial after an uncontested public hearing.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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