Council breaks own policy in approving cannabis store

Cannabis store defies rules

Kelowna city council has gone against its own policy to approve a cannabis retail store at the corner of Leon Avenue and Pandosy Street.

Council voted 6-3 following Tuesday's public hearing to approve the application by Grasshopper Cannabis Inc., despite the fact it is within 500 metres of another approved downtown cannabis store.

When establishing rules for cannabis stores in the city, council adopted policies stating retailers must be 500 metres from each other, 150 metres from parks and elementary schools, and 500 metres from middle and secondary schools.

However, retailers wishing to operate within those boundaries are able to apply for an amendment, as was done in this case.

Staff stated the distance between the Grasshopper location and one approved at 547 Bernard Ave. was just 263 metres.

Councillors Brad Sieben and Ryan Donn, and Mayor Colin Basran voted against the Pandosy location.

Basran says he felt it would be prudent to wait and see what the landscape looks like once stores begin opening downtown before deviating from policy.

"We have this policy in place. Let's wait until the stores we've approved are opened. Then, if we feel the market could be better served by more, let's have that conversation in due course," said Basran.

"I am not opposed to cannabis retail stores, but I would just like to see the ones we've approved open first before we then deviate from our 500-metre policy."

To date, only Hobo on Springfield Road is open in Kelowna.

Council also approved a licence for a retail store at 150 Hollywood Rd.

That could also spark further debate around the council table when an application for a provincial retail store in Willow Park Mall comes before them. That location will also be less than 500 metres from the site approved Tuesday.

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