City staff in Penticton are recommending council support an application for a cannabis store next door to a church, despite concerns from some residents.
Planning manager Blake Laven said staff will recommend that city council issue a letter of support to Cannabis Cottage at 385 Martin St. The proposed private marijuana retail operator is next door to the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
“The proximity of the church was brought up in one or two letters … I think that it did factor into it a little bit, but it wasn’t a factor that made us not choose that one,” Laven said.
The minister of the congregation, Colin Cross, says church members have not formally discussed the matter so he couldn’t comment.
City staff opted to support Cannabis Cottage and reject the application of nearby Green Essence despite its prior establishment as a marijuana dispensary.
Last September, Penticton RCMP raided Green Essence and told Global Okanagan the shop was selling cannabis to anyone and without a licence.
“I think what it came down to was we had an application that was just up the street from them that ticked all of the checkboxes, and the review panel really liked the other one, Cannabis Cottage,” Laven said.
Laven said city policy requires cannabis stores have a minimum distance of 300 metres between similar businesses in the downtown area, a minimum distance of 300 metres from schools and a 750-metre buffer zone elsewhere in the city.
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“We took a merit-based approach to determine which stores we wanted to support,” he said.
“We did that by creating an internal review panel that looked at all of the applications and scored them all out of 100, and where there were conflicts between stores, we gave support to the ones with the higher score.”
Penticton staff also recommend the approval of three other cannabis storefronts: Green Gaia at 210 Main St., Spiritleaf at 2695 Skaha Lake Rd. and a provincially operated B.C. Cannabis Store at 103-2050 Main St.
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A private cannabis retailer, Zen Canna, was also vying to operate near the same location as the B.C. Cannabis Store, but staff opted to support the province’s application instead.
Staff recommend the city also send letters of denial to Greenery Cannabis Boutique at 465 Main St. and Bluewater Cannabis at 101-130 Nanaimo Ave.
City council will review the recommendations at its regular Tuesday council meeting, and rejected applicants will have a chance to appeal before council.
Laven said five cannabis store applications remain outstanding and are at various stages in the approval process.
The City of Penticton does not have a cap on how many marijuana retail storefronts can operate within city limits.