Valley's first legal pot store?

An application that could see the opening of the Okanagan's first legal recreational cannabis retail store is back before Lake Country council tonight.

On Dec. 4, council voted 4-3 to deny a variance application, which would allow a Starbuds cannabis store to open in the Turtle Bay Crossing development, within the 400-metre buffer zone from a nearby daycare.

Following the vote, Mayor James Baker, who voted against the application, decided to bring back the application for reconsideration, as the applicants didn't speak to council before the first vote.

Council has received letters in support of the application from community members, including from the owner of the nearby daycare. Lake Country staff also supported the application.

Dave Martyn, president of Starbuds and Compass Cannabis Clinics, a Lake Country resident, said Coun. Penny Gambell was "highly concerned that edible gummy bears were going to end up in the daycare two blocks from the retail site, but those don't exist in the Cannabis Act, they're not a legal product to sell."

Edibles are expected to be legalized in the fall of 2019.

“Personally, I am very concerned about any business of this type, of cannabis, because it's a new product being legalized, so I am concerned as far as children go,” said Gambell. “It never hurts to err on the side of caution when we're dealing with children, and that's what the bylaw states.”

Gambell said she's going into tonight's meeting with an open mind, however.

Starbuds, meanwhile, has three other proposed cannabis retail stores in Revelstoke, Fernie and Dawson Creek, along with more than 30 others proposed across Canada.

Martyn says they are in the final stage of getting provincial approval for the Lake Country location, but they'll need a stamp of approval from the municipality first.

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