For a second time, Vernon council overturns pot shop ban | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon News

For a second time, Vernon council overturns pot shop ban

The City of Vernon has rolled back a moratorium that restricted the number of pot shops opening in the downtown core.

Council voted unanimously to remove the restrictions following an appeal from Alberta-based cannabis company that had already spent $200,000 on rent for a store they could not open.

Following a lengthy and often confusing debate at the City's Nov. 26 meeting, council removed the restriction that limited the number of cannabis stores opening in the secondary area of the city's Business Improvement Area. Council originally put the moratorium in place in April following concerns the downtown core may become saturated with pot shops.

While some councillors favoured the free market dictating how many pot shops there would be, others favoured limitations and in July, the City tightened its restrictions placing a city-wide moratorium on pot shops for two years.

Council heard how Alberta-based Cowboy Cannabis leased a building in the Fruit Union Plaza in July 2018 and was one of the first to submit an application, months before the restrictions were put in place.

In a letter sent to Vernon council, supported by the Fruit Union Plaza landlord and the Downtown Vernon Association, Cowboy Cannabis said it has invested $217,137.87 into the site in "good faith" and its licence had been approved in principle by the province.

"In regards to the $200,000 that they put in I have no sympathy for that, that's a business risk, we all take it," Coun. Scott Anderson said. "That's the way it happens."

While Anderson said he had no problem with this particular cannabis store opening in the Fruit Union Plaza he did not "want to see another sob story come up."

Coun. Kari Gares said she'd be happy to remove the cap on the area and bring in a bylaw restricting more than one cannabis store per 500 metres. Coun. Gares originally put forward the idea earlier this year, but her motion did not receive any traction.

Council voted unanimously to remove the restriction, allowing the cannabis store application to move forward.

Cowboy Cannabis isn't the first Vernon pot shop to be caught up in the City's pot shop restrictions. In September, council approved a licence for the Vernon Cannabis Store, after the company appealed explaining how two applications to open a cannabis store had been quashed, by just a few days when the City changed its rules.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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