How many Cannabis shops do we really need? (File Photo)

Cannabis retail applications spark debate in Williams Lake

Are we stifling economic growth or promoting public safety?

Even though it has been legalized there is a stigma attached to cannabis in Williams Lake.

City council endorsed two to go on for final government approval and denied one because it would be on the same block as the Salvation Army.

No one from the public that commented at Tuesday’s council meeting spoke in favour of a cannabis shop going into End or the Roll. They cited impact on vulnerable people, impact on youth, added congestion for traffic and parking and increased panhandling.

Mayor Walt Cobb, however, said a legalized store in the area could possibly stop drug deals happening on the streets.

“I get the most complaints about drug deals happening at the library,” Cobb said.

Read More: Proposed cannabis shop rejected because of its downtown location

City council’s cannabis bylaw requires stores be at least 300 metres away from a daycare, school or recreation facility and a cannabis retailer should not be closer than 500 metres of another. Already the bylaw has proven to be a challenge and three out of five applications have been granted variances.

Some members of the public have questioned why make a bylaw you are not going to follow.

Cobb, however, said it was his understanding the bylaw would result in variances if not permanent changes down the road.

Coun. Jason Ryll described the process as “wading through murky waters” with no guidance from provincial or federal levels of government.

With a potential for five cannabis retail shops in Williams Lake the community will get to see firsthand what kind of impact the industry will have.

— Williams Lake Tribune

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