White Rock council has decided to delay its decision on three non-medicinal cannabis-store applications for the uptown area.
The deferral votes came Monday night following more than two hours of public hearings on the applications, during which proponents and members of the public weighed in on the merits of a more liberalized approach to cannabis retailing in the city.
A majority of speakers seemed to favour allowing at least one of the proposed stores, although some residents persistently and repeatedly raised objections.
Coun. Scott Kristjanson – in moving the delay of final readings of the associated bylaws and temporary-use permits – said he was “concerned that we’re doing this right after the public hearings.”
He suggested council defer action “until we’ve had time to absorb the input we’ve had from people.”
Council endorsed Kristjanson’s motions 5 -1 with Coun. David Chesney casting the solitary ‘no’ vote.
“I didn’t hear anything tonight that would cause me to change the way I’d vote on this,” he said after the meeting.
Among impassioned arguments council heard was that the presence of cannabis stores in the uptown area would directly impact the health (through allergic sensitivity) and peace of mind of residents, and that cannabis had directly contributed to the psychosis of a close family member.
Liudmila Glambinskiene, who is the proprietor of St. John’s Childcare Centre at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on George Street, said that one proposed store, only some 80-m from the daycare operation at the church, would negatively affect the children, while “the increase of cannabis consumption may cause public disturbances due to intoxication.”
Those in favour of the proposed stores asserted that they would be highly regulated, managed responsibly, with ID checks and no public consumption of products, and that their presence would actively discourage illegal distribution.
Council also delayed until their next regular meeting (scheduled for Feb. 10) any decision on a zoning amendment that would allow up to three cannabis stores in the area bounded by North Bluff Road, George Street, Thrift Avenue and Martin Street.
If approved, the amendment would remove the current regulation, approved by the previous council that has, to this point, required a 1,000-m separation between cannabis stores – effectively limiting the number of possible cannabis stores to one in the uptown area.
Among the applications the city must decide on is a BC Liquor Distribution Branch application for a 325-sq. m. space in the second phase of the Miramar Village development (15177 Thrift Ave.)
Also under consideration are applications for two private cannabis stores; one, at 1484 Johnston Rd., A Little Bud Cannabis Ltd. (in the former King Koin laundry premises), and the other, at 1550 Johnston Rd. (currently occupied by Health Express), which would be part of the Choom BC chain of stores.