Vernon puts freeze on cannabis stores

Vernon city council approved an application for a cannabis store next to Buy-low Foods in the former Raina's Bistro location.
Vernon city council approved an application for a cannabis store next to Buy-low Foods in the former Raina's Bistro location.

VERNON - Vernon has put a stop to any more pot shops opening in the city.

The decision to put a moratorium of the number of non-medical cannabis stores was passed unanimously by Vernon city council at yesterday's, July 29, meeting, capping the total number at 16.

While the moratorium has no expiry date it was largely discussed by councillors that a two year time period would be appropriate.

The cap on pots shops came moments after councillors approved three more applications for cannabis stores in Vernon.

Council already imposed a cap on the number of cannabis stores in the downtown core to six, earlier this year.

Prior to agreeing on the moratorium, council discussed placing a cap on the number of pot shops but realized through their discussion deciding on a number of was no easy feat.

Councillor Kari Gares suggested capping the number of stores based on a per capita basis.

"I think capping it is a good idea, I just don't know what that number should be," councillor Brian Quiring said.

Coun. Quiring suggested staff produce a report based on expert guidance showcasing what other cities had done and what the maximum number of cannabis stores should be. However, City of Vernon chief administrative officer Will Pearce told council the city did not have the experience to do this.

Councillors also grappled with their beliefs in the open and free market and their responsibility to have put a cap on the number.

"This is substantively... different than anything else that we're dealing with and it is not regulated in any way, and I think it is responsible behaviour for us to put a cap on it," councillor Scott Anderson said.

Councillors finally agreed the moratorium would become effective immediately.

While council did approve a cannabis store next to Buy-low Foods on 25 Avenue, councillor Akbal Mund and Coun. Anderson spoke out in opposition against the application.

Coun. Mund said it was too close to the McDonald's restaurant heavily frequented by school children from Clarence Fulton Secondary school. Coun. Anderson said the application had received many negative responses from people in the neighbourhood and the location was not a good fit.

To date, council has approved 16 cannabis store applications, with Spiritleaf being the only store currently open. The Greenhorn has received provincial approval is scheduled to open soon, while the other applications are moving through the provincial government's process.

The City of Vernon has also put five applications for stores within the downtown core on hold. As the City has limited the number of stores downtown to six, if any of the current applications are rejected by the provincial government these applications can move forward.

Here are the three applications approved by council on July 29:

  • Kalamalka Cannabis, 1220 Kalamalka Lake Rd., next to Toro's liquor store
  • Flora Recreational Cannabis, 5301 25 Ave., next to Buy-Low Foods
  • Canna Cabana, 4400 32 St., near London Drugs

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