North Cowichan won’t expedite an application to open a government-operated retail cannabis store in Cowichan Commons.
At the council meeting on April 17, it was decided that council would stand by its original decision to wait until Costa Canna, a partnership headed by Cowichan Tribes which is also preparing an application for a pot shop in Cowichan Commons, submits its application information to the municipality and both would be considered at the same time.
In a letter to the municipality, Kevin Satterfield, a spokesman for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, said given that there was no specific time frame indicated at the meeting on April 3 for when the applications might be read together, the LDB “respectfully asks” that council reconsider the approach and bring forward a reading of its application within a set time frame.
“Our request would be that, if no recommendation for the private applicant is received within 14 days of this letter being issued, that council consider allowing staff to add our application to the agenda for the first meeting in May,” Satterfield said.
According to criteria established by council in January, pot shops must be a minimum of at least 300 metres from each other, with minimum distances from places where children gather.
Coun. Rosalie Sawrie asked if both retail stores could be accommodated in Cowichan Commons.
Mayor Al Siebring said as the Cowichan Commons is a little close already to a school and other areas where children gather, it’s unlikely that both applications would be approved.
“That’s why we wanted to consider them together,” he said.
Coun. Christopher Justice said that council had decided at an earlier meeting that applications for marijuana retail stores would be considered as they are received.
“We’re being wishy-washy on this issue,” he said.
Coun. Kate Marsh said the LDB will likely set up retail stores in many communities across the province.
“I expect that the Cowichan Tribes won’t be,” she said.
“They are struggling financially and I would like to see what they have to say and have to offer before any final decisions are made. I’d rather see a local business set up there rather than a monopoly.”
The application for the LCD-operated pot shop in Cowichan Commons is the only rezoning application North Cowichan currently has for a government-run marijuana store.
Kamloops has been home to the first and currently the only government-operated retail marijuana shop in B.C. since recreational pot became legal in Canada in October, although several applications are in the process in a number of jurisdictions across the province.