Proposed Lake Country cannabis store gets second chance

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LAKE COUNTRY - A cannabis retail store in Lake Country is getting a second shot at approval after being rejected by council last week.

District of Lake Country council voted down a bylaw variance at their meeting last week with a slim 4-3 decision. The variance would have allowed Compass Cannabis at the Turtle Bay Crossing mall in Lake Country to convert their medicinal clinic into the first cannabis retail location in the Okanagan.

The current bylaw restriction forbids cannabis retailers from operating within 400 metres of school zones and daycares. Compass Cannabis' medicinal clinic is in this "buffer" zone with a daycare. The variance would have reduced the buffer to 150 metres.

Council defeated the variance request, but after objections were raised, it is scheduled to be reconsidered at their Tuesday, Dec. 18, meeting, according to Mayor James Baker.

Celine Fitzgerald, owner of the Lake Country Compass Cannabis location, was stunned when council denied the bylaw variance last week.

"I'm still in shock," she said. "We crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's."

Fitzgerald attended the bylaw variance hearing last week, but she claims she was confused by the proceedings. When council asked for public feedback about the bylaw during the meeting, Fitzgerald didn't speak up because she thought they were referring to a different bylaw. By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late.

Fitzgerald emailed Mayor James Baker to express her concerns about the decision and to request another chance to advocate for her store. Later, she was informed the bylaw variance would be revisited next week.

Compass Cannabis founder and president Dave Martyn will be attending the meeting, along with other Compass Cannabis representatives. They'll lay out their case before council takes another vote.

"Everybody gets a chance to speak," Fitzgerald said.

If council approves of the bylaw variance, Fitzgerald said the store should be ready to open in January. If they vote down the variance again, the store will have to move.

"We'll have to sell our store," she said. "I'd hate to leave."

Fitzgerald is audibly emotionally when talking about the future of her store.

"We put our entire savings into this store," she said. "We want to be a part of this community."

Fitzgerald said she's overwhelmed by the community support she's received, from emails to phone calls. She thinks people want this store to open and hopes council sides in her favour next week.

"I hope they do the right thing," she said.

The council meeting will held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Municipal Hall at 10150 Bottom Wood Lake Rd.

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