George and Janette Cheung, owners of Ken’s Restaurant, said they were surprised to learn this week that a cannabis shop application was submitted to city council for 98 Second Ave. North which is the where they are located. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Ken’s Restaurant owners not planning to retire or open a cannabis shop

It was news to the Cheungs that someone has applied to open a pot shop at their 94 Second Ave. North location

A downtown Williams Lake restaurant owner said he is not retiring or applying to open a cannabis shop.

George Cheung, who has operated Ken’s Restaurant at 94 Second Ave. North with his wife Janette since 1994, said when city council received an application at the Tuesday Nov. 20 council meeting from the Victoria-based company FLORA for a cannabis shop at the same address as the restaurant it was news to him.

“It was a surprise to all of us,” Cheung told the Tribune Friday. “It’s not me applying for a license, it’s not me going out of business. When the time comes for me to be going out of business, my customers will know it from me, not from Facebook.”

His phone has been ringing off the hook since Wednesday with customers inquiring, he added, noting there is an upper level in the building with a two-bedroom apartment that is vacant right now.

Read more: Customers are like family at Ken’s Restaurant in Williams Lake

During the council meeting on Tuesday, city council voted to direct FLORA to apply for a development variance permit because the location at 94 Second Ave. North did not meet the minimum 500-metre distance from another approved retail cannabis store as stipulated by the city’s current cannabis bylaw.

A representative for FLORA told city council during the meeting the company wants to help revitalize the downtown core and hire locally, that the company has seven applications into the Liquor and Cannabis Regulatory Branch for consideration and is moving to the building permit stage for a store in Trail, B.C.

FLORA president and CEO Ian Laing, when contacted by the Tribune, said he wanted to be able to speak with Cheung before making any comments to the media about the cannabis shop application.

A spokesperson for Aryon Holdings Corp. that has applied to put in a cannabis shop at 68 Broadway Ave. North was also instructed to apply for development variance permit as the location did not meet the minimum 500-metre distance from another approved cannabis shop.

When asked during the city council meeting by Coun. Ivan Bonnell how long it will take for the applications for development permit variances to be approved, planner Hasib Nadvi said the applications will have to come to council to be received, then go through a 30-day notification process before being brought back to city council for final consideration.

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