Williams Lake city council has accepted a development permit variance application for a government-owned retail cannabis store in the east end of Boitanio Mall.
The variance is asking to reduce the minimum 300-metre distance requirement for a retail cannabis store from Cariboo Memorial Complex as stipulated in the City’s bylaw for cannabis related regulation.
“This application does comply with city bylaws other than the 300 metre from the recreation centre requirement,” said Leah Hartley, the city’s director of development services during the regular council meeting Tuesday. “The location they are proposing and is written into the draft variance application is 400 metres from the recreation complex.”
However, she explained, the measuring within the City’s zoning bylaw is in a straight line from the closest lot line to the closest lot line.
All of council voted in favour of accepting the application except for Councillor Craig Smith who voted against.
“It’s going to be the first thing people see as they drive into town,” Smith said. “The fact the mall owners have applied to build seniors housing on the second floor, and the proximity to Boitanio Park and the recreation complex I wasn’t happy about.”
Another concern is going to be traffic congestion, Smith added.
”As you come into the city all of a sudden you will have the new drive-thru restaurant and you are going to have a smaller parking lot and a government cannabis store is probably going to be used more by people that aren’t regular cannabis users.”
Smith said he has no intention of getting into the cannabis business himself.
“I like to travel to the States so I’m not buying stocks in it or anything, just for that fact, but on the other side of the coin I don’t believe we should take a location that could be used by a private retailer and create a government store. Why not have six private retailers instead of four private retailers and one government store.”
Supporting the application, Coun. Scott Nelson said it was a fabulous idea and good location.
“We are looking at redevelopment of the mall with significant capital investment,” Nelson said. “In seven more days pot is coming online, so I’d rather have it being run out of legalized stores than non-legalized stores.”
Nelson said non-legalized cannabis shops in Williams Lake will be forced to shut down after Oct. 17.
Mayor Walt Cobb said “as much as I hate to see it happening,” that he approved the application because it would be government-regulated.
Notices will go out to all surrounding property owners and tenants and within a 100-metre-radius of the subject property, asking for comments on the application and it will be referred to the Cariboo Regional District and the RCMP.
The application will also come back to council at a future regular meeting for further consideration.