Rejected cannabis stores fire back at Penticton city staff

The green icons show the city-endorsed locations of non-medical retail cannabis stores in Penticton, B.C. while the red icons show the applications recommended for rejection. Global News

At least two business owners of proposed cannabis stores in Penticton that were not endorsed by city staff are firing back at city hall.

Following a review panel process and grading system, city staff recommended four non-medical cannabis retail stores for approval and suggested another four applications be rejected.

City staff have endorsed Green Gaia at 210 Main St., Cannabis Cottage at 385 Martin St., Spiritleaf at 2695 Skaha Lake Rd. and a BC Cannabis Store at 106-2210 Main St.

READ MORE: City staff give green light to 4 cannabis stores in Penticton

Staff recommended city council should deny applications for Zen Canna at 103 – 2050 Main St., Green Essence at 101-437 Martin St., Greenery Cannabis Boutique at 465 Main St., and Bluewater Cannabis at 101 – 130 Nanaimo Ave. W.

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City policy stipulates that cannabis stores cannot be located within 300 metres of a school or another cannabis retail store in the downtown core. The buffer zone is 750 metres from another cannabis store elsewhere in the city.

Staff opted to support the government-run store on Main Street instead of the nearby private retailer, Zen Canna.

Chief operating officer Ian Burak says in a letter addressed to city council that it should support a local business over a provincially operated store.

“As a local private retailer, we believe that we are a better business partner for the city of Penticton and because we are an Okanagan-based company and we believe we offer a greater connection to the community,” Burak said in the letter.

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Zen Canna scored a high grade and the planning department suggested it consider a new location.

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“Unfortunately, Zen Canna is bound to the Zen Canna Premises by a ten-year lease that contains no contractual right of termination to Zen Canna,” Burak said.

City staff also decided to support Cannabis Cottage next door to the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Martin Street instead of nearby Green Essence.

Green Essence previously operated as a cannabis dispensary and obtained a temporary use permit in 2017, but it was pulled the following year.

The dispensary was the subject of an RCMP raid in September 2018. RCMP allege the business was selling marijuana to anyone and did not possess a licence.

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In a letter to city council, Green Essence owner Melissa Osiowy expressed her disappointment and frustration with the planning department’s recommendation for rejection.

“I am disheartened that everything I have worked so hard for over the last six years is being denied by individuals I do not feel have a firm understanding of the Cannabis Industry and have made their evaluations on myopic information,” she said in the letter.

“I cannot… accept that Cannabis Cottage is a better fit for the community and for consumers than that of Green Essence.”

Rejected applicants will have an opportunity to appeal before the city council at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Council will make the ultimate decision on which applications will be forwarded to the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) for licences.

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