A potential third cannabis retailer could soon be setting up shop in Sidney.
Council asked staff to inform the public about plans by Jima Cannabis to open a cannabis retail location at 102-9774 Third Street with the goal of receiving feedback before and during a special public participation opportunity scheduled for April 12.
The application is now in the hands of the municipality after having passed its “fit and proper” assessment by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation (LCRB), the agency charged with the approval or denial of retail cannabis applications.
While council’s vote in favour of asking for public input was unanimous after staff had described the application as “largely consistent” with Sidney’s zoning and liquor and cannabis licensing policy, Couns. Chad Rintoul and Terri O’Keeffe signaled concerns.
Rintoul said the business’s proposed opening hours of 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week, are not appropriate
“I trust we will hear that and more from residents,” he said. “But I have surprised myself before in this process.”
Staff pointed out that the proposed hours are longer than those of the existing cannabis retail location, but the same as both private liquor stores in Sidney. They are also consistent with the hours outlined by LCRB.
Truth and Alibi, Sidney’s first cannabis retail location, opens from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter hours (November to March). The business plans to be open 10 a.m to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays during summer hours (April to October). Buds Cannabis plans to open Mondays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but has not opened yet.
Rintoul pointed out that the proposed location lies very close to a multi-level residential project under construction, whose future residents will not be able to have their voices heard. The location also lies near two other major multi-level residential projects also under construction north of Beacon Avenue, as well as existing ones.
O’Keeffee, meanwhile, shared Rintoul’s concerns while also returning to the role of municipalities in regulating the cannabis industry in expressing concern about having a third cannabis retail location.
Recommendations from senior levels of government concerning the density of cannabis retail exist for reasons, she said, pointing to Island Health’s recommendation that at least 300 metres must separate cannabis retail locations.
Officials recognize cannabis retail is not like any other business, because of its adverse affects, she said.
“This is why they have given us the responsibility to balance those intended benefits against the expected harm and do what we can to avoid normalizing it in the community,” she said.
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