May 22, 2019 3:39 pm
Updated: May 22, 2019 6:13 pm

Penticton caps cannabis stores at 14

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

The City of Penticton overhauled its cannabis retail store policy on Tuesday, opting for a cap-based system instead of the more restrictive buffer-zone system.

City council voted 4-3 to remove the 300-metre buffer rules between stores and move to a system whereby the overall number of stores in the community will be capped at 14.

There will also be a cap on the number of downtown stores set at seven.

The cap system will be removed in its entirety by June 30, 2022.

WATCH: Penticton council backs away from limiting cannabis retail downtown (December 2018) 

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The cannabis policy changes come after council gave support to four retail storefront locations—three private stores and one government-run store—at the April 16 regular council meeting.

Staff recommended council reject four additional cannabis stores because of the buffer zone rules, despite the strong applications.

READ MORE: Rejected cannabis stores fire back at Penticton city staff

Council, though, after hearing from the proponents of those businesses, made a motion to defer a decision rather than deny them. There are five other applications in various stages of processing, for a total of 13 applications in the city, so far.

Penticton city councillor Julius Bloomfield voted in favour of moving to the more liberal cap-based system, noting the former framework was onerous on city staff.

“It was extremely difficult to manage. It was extremely costly, took a lot of staff time doing the evaluation for each applicant proved to be argumentative, subjective, and this whole process, it may be well planned, but it didn’t work,” he said.

“The cap system, I believe, is a good compromise where by it is definitive, it is not subjective.”

Councillor Campbell Watt said there should be no restrictions as the market will dictate how many pot shops are viable to operate in Penticton.

“I have always believed that the market should dictate which of these businesses survive and which of them don’t. Having said that, I think we are taking baby steps to finally accomplish that,” he said.

WATCH: Marijuana and the Okanagan: Where cannabis consumption is, isn’t allowed (October 2018) 

Councillor Katie Robinson said the public consultation period revealed that the public wants the number of cannabis stores to be limited in the city.

‘I think 10-12 would be more than sufficient for a city this size and the public consultation did ask us to start slowly and limit them,” she said.

She tried to lower the cap to 10-12 stores, but failed to gain support from a second councillor to bring the amendment forward.

READ MORE: Penticton endorses plan to ban sitting on downtown sidewalks during summer months

Staff compiled public feedback and 42 per cent of respondents said the number of cannabis stores allowed to operate in Penticton should be the same as liquor stores.

There are 10 liquor stores operating in the city. Thirty per cent said they don’t believe the number should be capped at all and 28 per cent said there should be fewer cannabis stores than liquor stores.

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