Editorial: Business exclusion zones

Is cannabis retail an undesirable business?

There’s something that isn’t being said, at least not in plain language, when Penticton city hall talks about banning cannabis retail stores on Main Street.

It’s implicit in the arguments being made, like pointing out that Main and Front streets are the city’s highest value retail areas.

The unspoken argument is that somehow cannabis retail is less than desirable and shouldn’t be in a very public, high traffic area, that they are somehow going to be a problem, attract undesirable customers or a host of other problems.

That’s really prejudging the potential shops, long before any applications are approved. But like any other business, the owners and operators are going to run the gamut, from top-shelf to bottom drawer.

Zoning bylaws do give the city the ability to determine where businesses can locate, at least in a general way. And planning for the future does require making decisions like industry should be located here, retail there, residential in this area, etc.

Barring an entire category of business because there is a possibility some operations might not live up to your vision of how Main Street shops should look is taking it a little far. Perhaps this could be limited to extending the school exclusions zones to any youth facility, like the Youth Resource Centre under construction on Main Street.

City hall also has the ability to set standards for appearance, elevations and signage — that is where planning concern should be.

Given the high costs of setting up a retail cannabis outlet — thousands of dollars in application and licence fees, including Penticton’s own annual $5,000 fee — it behooves any operator to set their own high standards.

People from all walks of life use cannabis, and like all stores, these new businesses are going to want to attract people people with money to spend on high-quality product.

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