Yet another proposed cannabis retail shop will face scrutiny from Chilliwack city council at a public hearing in two weeks.
The fourth application elected officials have had to consider may have an easier time than the two that have been rejected. That’s because no variances are needed to meet city hall’s requirements for the C9 (cannabis retail zone).
The location of the store with a proposed name of Seed & Stone is in a small retail plaza in front of the Hampton Inn on Lickman Road, a property that easily meets the requirement of being more than 300 metres away form schools, playgrounds and supportive housing facilities that serve vulnerable youth.
It is also just over 300 metres away from the only other proposed cannabis retail location the city rezoned. In April, city council gave the first approval for a C9 zone for Cannabis Central in a portion of the SureStay Hotel by Best Western property on Industrial Way near Highway 1.
A month later, council rejected a C9 application before the rezoning even got to public hearing. That proposed shop for the Promontory Hillside Plaza was deemed a bad location because of the number of children that frequent the adjacent convenience store.
Then in June, council rejected another one making it evident they do not want to see cannabis retail applications that come with variances. A C9 proposed rezoning for a property at Young and Chilliwack Central roads was within 300 metres of The Education Centre, Nowell Park, Greenacres Square and a supportive housing facility.
“I think we made it clear when we had specific requirements for the C9 zone, and at this point I’m not comfortable to entertain any variances,” Coun. Chris Kloot said of that application.
For the Lickman Road proposal, the applicant, Vikram Sachdeva, submitted a letter and a petition in support with more than 190 signatures. He also delivered letters to properties in the surrounding area and commercial businesses within the subject property and received “no major concerns.”
Council did not discuss this particular application at the August 6 meeting, rather gave it the usual first reading and scheduled a public hearing for August 20.
And while specific locations have proven stumbling blocks for two applicants so far, it’s the big picture regarding tax revenue that has had Coun. Jason Lum opposed to the shops.
Lum says there is no incentive to continue approving retail pot shops without clarity on the tax split with local governments.
“We are incurring costs right now as a city, but there are still so many unknowns,” he said.
Officials with Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) have said local governments are seeking 40 per cent of the tax revenue, which totals about $68 million flowing to the province over three years. UBCM has also asked its members to keep track of what they’ve spent on cannabis-related rezonings, licensing, advertising, and bylaws.
Cannabis is already available in the first licensed pot shop on First Nations land in B.C. on Skwah First Nation. The Kure was granted its licence on April 25 to operate a non-medical cannabis retail store. Indigenous Bloom sell cannabis out of two unlicensed retail outlets on reserve land nearby.
Some municipalities, Surrey and Richmond for example, are not allowing cannabis retail at all.