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UPDATE: Council endorses four cannabis shop licences

Sechelt council has endorsed four applications for non-medical cannabis retail licences. In a report to the Nov.

Sechelt council has endorsed four applications for non-medical cannabis retail licences. 

In a report to the Nov. 20 council meeting, the planning department recommended approval of an application by Coastal Green for a location in Wilson Creek, as well as three other applications from shops that were open before legalization: 420 Hemp Shop at 5670 Cowrie St., Sun Coast Culture (formerly WeeMedical) at 5670 Teredo St. and Weeds Glass and Gifts at 5536 Wharf Ave. 

Unlike liquor licence referrals, which local governments do not have the ultimate decision on, licences for marijuana retailing cannot be issued unless the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch receives a positive referral from a local government. 

The three cannabis retailers in the downtown core have been open under temporary use permits, but in some cases stopped selling marijuana products while the province reviewed their licence applications. 

The planning department report says the district received 28 written responses after publishing notice of the applications in October. 

One, from the board of School District No. 46, asked the district to follow its recommendation of a 300-metre buffer around all school sites when assessing applications. 

Sechelt council has already adopted a zoning bylaw that includes a 150-metre buffer around schools with the exception of the Alternative School site on Inlet Avenue, which has a 50-metre buffer zone. The planning report noted that if the buffer zones were larger, “potential locations for cannabis retail stores would be extremely limited.” 

Submissions from the general public were mostly in support of the applications, with comments like, “delays in providing access to this plant are causing people to suffer as well as appearing to be an affront to what the government was, in theory, supposed to do” and “I think it is essential to support our local businesses and at least give them a chance to compete with the government’s overpriced BC Cannabis Stores.” 

Most of the responses in support of specific applications named Weeds, which was the first company to start selling cannabis through a storefront shop in Sechelt more than four years ago. 

Of the negative submissions received, a handful singled out the Sun Coast Culture application, mainly arguing that it was too close to the residential buildings on the waterfront. 

The planning department report says the submissions opposed to all of the applications included “general opposition to cannabis retail” as well as concern about proximity to schools and tourist areas. 

“I think we recognize that this provides a required and needed service in our community,” said Mayor Darnelda Siegers after the unanimous vote in favour. 

Coastal Bay Cannabis in Gibsons is, so far, the only retailer on the Coast to be granted a provincial licence. 

The government’s own chain, BC Cannabis Stores, has plans for a future location at the shíshálh Nation’s Tsain-ko Centre.