The Cowichan Commons shopping centre could soon be home to two retail marijuana stores.
North Cowichan’s council gave third readings to applications from the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch and Costa Canna, a partnership headed by Cowichan Tribes, to open pot shops in Cowichan Commons after a sparsely attended public hearing on the applications that was held on Aug. 21.
The next step is for both applications to be referred to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for comments.
The ministry’s referral is required under legislation as they are within 800 metres of a controlled intersection.
Following the MOTI referral and assuming there are no issues raised, the applications will be placed on a future council meeting agenda for council to consider a fourth reading and adoption.
Both applicants gave short presentations in their proposals at the public hearing and just one person, who was in favour, spoke to Costa Canna’s application while no one spoke to the LDB’s application before council made its decisions.
The vote was unanimous for Costa Canna’s application to move forward, while Mayor Al Siebring and Coun. Rosalie Sawrie voted against the LDB’s application.
Siebring said he opposed the LDB’s application moving to a fourth reading because, generally speaking, North Cowichan doesn’t want to have two marijuana dispensaries in the same municipal parcel.
“Having these two in the same parcel doesn’t violate municipal policy because, due to an accident of surveying, they are considered on two separate parcels even though, in reality, they are in the same shopping centre,” he said.
“I can only imagine the outcry 10 years ago if we proposed having two liquor outlets in the Cowichan Commons. But council made its decision so both applications will move forward.”
The application for the government was given first reading by council in June, but Costa Canna’s application was denied at the same council meeting because the proposed location would have been at the terminal of a major pedestrian trail system and it would have been situated in a site where security would be a concern.
But Costa Canna found another location in the Cowichan Commons that didn’t have these concerns and resubmitted its application.
If both applications get final approval by North Cowichan to operate, they must still wait for the government to give the green light before they can open.
All applications to open retail marijuana stores in the province have to go through thorough background and security checks, and a final inspection to make sure the locations are up to standards before the province will issue a licence.
So far, despite numerous applications to the local governments, there are still no retail pot shops open in the Cowichan Valley even though the use of recreational marijuana became legal last October.