Another effort is being made to open the first legal marijuana retail store in Chemainus at 9750 Chemainus Rd.
At the Municipality of North Cowichan’s council meeting on Jan. 29, council gave the first two readings to an application by Violet Wild Cannabis to open a cannabis shop at the location, despite a recommendation by staff to reject it, and the application will now go to a public hearing.
Last May, council rejected an application from the Leaf Compassion dispensary to reopen its store at the site.
Like many pot shops in the area before legalization in 2018, Leaf Compassion first opened the store about four years ago at the location, and was raided by police and bylaw officers twice over that time for operating without a business licence, and charges were laid for marijuana possession and trafficking after the first raid in 2017.
But the main reason for council’s rejection of the application last May was that the location didn’t fit into the criteria council established for pot shops in its jurisdiction that were established last January.
The location is en route to areas frequented by youth and is in proximity to public and family-oriented properties, which council wanted to avoid.
Jill and Terra Maiback, who spoke for Violet Wild Cannabis at Wednesday’s council meeting, addressed some of the concerns.
Jill said Violet Wild Cannabis would have a clientele that would be diverse in age and backgrounds, and their target customers would not be kids who would use cannabis on trails and parks in the area.
“Our proposal fits well into the municipality’s guidelines to attract new business, and we’d be compliant with the policy that marijuana stores be close to main roads.”
Terra said she would live above the site at 9750 Chemainus Rd., and would be the “eyes on the ground” that a staff report said are not in place at the site.
“We also intend to hold workshops and educational classes at the location, and we’re looking at having a mural painted on the side of the building so we can better integrate into the Chemainus community.”
Coun. Rosalie Sawrie asked why Violet Wild Cannabis chose the site as the proposed location for its business.
Jill said they felt they had a better chance of the application being passed by council after the municipality changed some of its criteria in July to consider each application on an individual basis.
Sawrie said she opposed the application by Leaf Compassion last May largely because the RCMP recommended it be rejected, but no such recommendation from the police was made it regards to the application by Violet Wild Cannabis.
“I feel that a retail marijuana location is needed in Chemainus, and I move to have the application go to a public hearing,” she said.
Coun. Rob Douglas said council has recognized that its policies on marijuana retail stores were “overkill” before they were amended.
“I’m not committing to supporting this application, but I would like to hear from the neighbours on how they feel about it at a public hearing,” he said.
Coun. Christopher Justice asked development manager Rob Conway if staff had done any analysis of what locations in Chemainus would better fit North Cowichan’s criteria.
Conway said no detailed analysis has been done, but locations in the community’s north and south ends would fit the criteria better.
“It boils down to whether council feels its general policies are being followed,” he said.
Mayor Al Siebring said there is a demand in Chemainus for marijuana outlets, and he is aware of at least one more application for a store that is expected to be submitted to North Cowichan soon.
“But that’s not to say a store [we approve] shouldn’t be this one,” he said.
The time and date of the public hearing has yet to be announced.