Despite a mounting a public relations campaign that appeared to show overwhelming support for the proposed Happy Buddha Cannabis outlet on Sidney’s Beacon Avenue, Sidney council denied the application. Its would-be operators are now weighing their options (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Owners of denied pot store in Sidney have not ruled out legal action

Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles say they are weighing their options

One of the entrepreneurs behind what would have been Sidney’s first pot store said she and her partner are unsure about their next move, but have not ruled out legal options.

“We are considering all of our options,” said Cindy Pendergast. “Believe it or not, we still think there is a way forward, and we are still hopeful that things can resolve. So we are not lawyers, we are not municipal politicians, we don’t know quite how to manage that, but we are taking advice from different folks to see if it is feasible to somehow get us to where we all like to be. I’m not saying it includes lawyers, but I am not saying it excludes lawyers.”

RELATED: Sidney’s first-ever pot store application flames out before council

Pendergast made these comments after Sidney councillors voted 4-3 to deny the application for Happy Buddha Cannabis, which she and her partner Brad Styles were planning to open in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue. Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith joined Couns. Barbara Fallot, Terri O’Keeffe, and Chad Rintoul in denying the application, while Couns. Sara Duncan, Scott Garnett and Peter Wainwright favoured it.

When asked about her prospects of success, if she and Styles were to pursue legal actions, Pendergast said she is very hopeful.

“I believe that the folks in Sidney have been extremely clear about supporting cannabis, certainly on Beacon Avenue. I believe the business community has been very supportive, and that gives us the hope that this will actually happen.”

She also said that they may end up elsewhere after having spent just shy of $40,000 on their would-be store for which they hold a lease. (Pendergast declined to discuss the details of their lease).

RELATED: Sidney plans to prohibit pot stores on main shopping street

“It may or may not be in Sidney,” she said. “We are not sure. We really are re-grouping and considering all options.” She stressed though they are not considering another location as of now.

The fate of the application hinged on reconciling two contrary requirements. While the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCRB) requires opaque window coverings, Sidney’s development permit guidelines require active — transparent — windows for Beacon Avenue.

Duncan argued that council’s opposition was not really about active storefronts, but an ambition to control the behaviour of business.

During the Monday meeting, Wainwright said Sidney did not treat the application fairly.

“I would say there is some unfairness, yes I would, and not particularly against us, but merely because the process is so new,” Pendergast said. “I don’t know if council is unfair particularly to us, or simply to all cannabis retailers. I can’t answer that, but I will say we do feel some frustration. However, we are always working towards solution.”

Not all members of council agreed with Wainwright’s assessment that Sidney treated the application unfairly, including Mayor McNeil-Smith, who said he fully expects a cannabis retail store in downtown Sidney off Beacon Avenue.


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