Three of five cannabis store applications were given the green light by Williams Lake city council during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The other two applicants were instructed to apply for a development variance permit because their stores do not fall within the bylaw of being located a minimum of 500 metres from another cannabis store.
In a vote of three to two, council approved a variance to allow a provincial cannabis store in Boitanio Mall. Mayor Walt Cobb, Coun. Ivan Bonnell and Coun. Jason Ryll voted in favour.
Coun. Craig Smith and Coun. Sheila Boehm voted against, saying they did not think the mall was an appropriate location as it is close to Boitanio Park, there is a proposed assisted living housing development in the works for the top level of the mall and the parking is already tight.
“I know we received one letter of support and one against, including from the RCMP, but I do recognize that access to this proposed location and the Cariboo Memorial Complex door-to-door is in excess of 300 metres, it’s just because of the property line to property line measurement it comes under the 300,” Bonnell said.
Smith has previously voted against the mall location.
In a letter submitted to council, RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley noted he had concerns with the cannabis store being located close to Boitanio Park.
Since Jan. 1, 2018 Boitanio Park has had 86 calls for service, the mall has had 54 calls for service and the B.C. liquor store across the street has had 42 calls for service.
“The majority of police calls for service are concentrated on this core area within the City of Williams Lake near the proposed premises,” Pelley stated.
Coun. Scott Nelson excused himself from the meeting when all five cannabis store items were discussed, citing a perceived conflict of interest. Nelson owns the building at 68 Broadway Ave. North that is being considered by Aryon Holdings Corporation for a possible location of a cannabis store.
Coun. Marnie Brenner was absent from the meeting.
When asked by Coun. Smith about the laws around smoking or consumption of cannabis in public places, Insp. Pelley, who was in attendance at the meeting, said there is a $230 fine that can be applied.
“It is obviously a different story when it comes to private property or a premises with respect to public consumption,” Pelley said.
Good Guys Gardening owner Roy Buxbaum, who has been a business owner in Williams Lake for 17 years, said he was pleased the city had approved his application, but concerned that council had determined that two of the applications needed to apply for a variance.
“We have abided with all the rules, bylaws and hoops that we’ve needed to comply,” Buxbaum told the Tribune. “We are concerned that businesses that are not locally owned are looking to come and locate to the downtown city core within sections that are not zoned for cannabis sale.”
Had he known he could have done the same, he would have bought a building downtown.
He is moving Good Guys Gardening Centre in order to comply with the City and with the provincial government because it has to be a standalone building, he said.
In October Mary Jane’s Glass and Gifts on Oliver Street closed its doors saying it had officially applied for a license.