December 5, 2018 4:38 pm
Updated: December 7, 2018 12:58 am

Business group opposes proposed ban on downtown Penticton cannabis shops

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The Downtown Penticton Association (DPA) is coming out opposed to a staff recommendation to ban legal cannabis storefronts from Main Street and Front Street in downtown Penticton.

In a letter dated Nov. 29, the board of directors said it is a “pro-business” organization funded by the downtown business district and operated by a nonprofit group of property owners and businesses.

“With the legalization of retail cannabis, the DPA Board of Directors do not agree with the restricted zones within our downtown as found in the framework presented to City Council,” the letter said.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Oct. 16, 2018) Marijuana and the Okanagan: Where cannabis consumption is, isn’t allowed

“As this is now a legal product, we look to the City Council to determine the best direction for the placement of legal cannabis stores in our downtown core of Penticton.”

READ MORE: Penticton RCMP raid illegal marijuana dispensary

At Tuesday’s regular council meeting, planning manager Blake Laven reviewed the rationale for the proposed ban, saying it could affect the character of the neighbourhood.

“This is an area the community has seen as the highest level retail in the city. Allowing this unknown use may impact the character of these really successful commercial areas in a negative way.”

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But Laven did not rule out amending the prohibition in the future.

“Until Penticton has experience with the look and feel of these businesses, we are proposing a prohibition in these areas,” he said.

Laven also argued the strict storefront requirements for cannabis retail outlets would be a deterrent to enjoyment of the downtown core.

READ MORE: Could a mega marijuana production facility revive a small Okanagan town?

“Required window coverings and restricted signage to those over 19 creates a less desirable image to those retail areas,” he said.

Laven added there has been seven applications or referrals to open a cannabis store in Penticton, as well as interest from the provincial government to open a B.C. Cannabis Store.

Meanwhile, the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce said it is in favour of the status quo.

“As federal regulation has been in place since October 17, 2018, we encourage Council to move forward in a timely manner. We do not wish to discourage legal businesses from
establishing themselves in our city,” a letter to council dated Nov. 20 said.

Staff also propose a ban on smoking and vaping of cannabis products in all public areas in Penticton.

The proposed regulations will go to a hearing on Dec. 18 for feedback from the public.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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