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Edmonton Public Library heads to court over cannabis store distance

The newly designed Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton on July 16, 2019.
The newly designed Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton on July 16, 2019. Brenna Karsten-Smith, Global News

An Edmonton commercial real estate firm is calling on the city to play fair when it comes to cannabis retailers.

Andy Zheng Chan, with Lizotte & Associates Real Estate Inc., said it had almost sealed a deal with a cannabis store to move into one of its properties, but that deal fell through after the Edmonton Public Library launched a legal appeal.

“That deal died,” said Chan.

Chan said the cannabis shop was supposed to move into the pedway area in the basement of the building at 10020 Jasper Avenue and was granted a development permit by the city’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).

READ MORE: City reviewing how Edmonton cannabis store next to daycare was approved

City bylaws require a distance of at least 200 metres from a cannabis shop to public libraries, schools and playgrounds.

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“EPL is now seeking clarification from the court,” said EPL chief financial officer Gastone Monai.

READ MORE: City releases list of applicants hoping to enter Edmonton retail cannabis market

Monai said EPL is appealing three decisions granted by the SDAB which allowed cannabis stores near the Stanley A. Milner, Abbottsfield-Penny McKee and Heritage Valley library branches.

“EPL believed that there was an error in how the SDAB interpreted the Municipal Government Act and city council’s zoning bylaw in making their decision.”

Chan said the appeal is piling on uncertainty in an already risky retail business.

He said the cannabis store would be located beside a liquor store in the basement of an adult apartment building, and would not be easily accessible and hidden away from the street.

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READ MORE: Legal marijuana spurs demand for commercial real estate, particularly in Alberta

“It is already very heavily regulated, Chan said, “and on top of that, now you have the city going against and appealing the decision of the SDAB.”

“It makes the process a lot more arduous and a lot more expensive for a lot of business owners.”

READ MORE: Edmonton changes zoning laws so pot shops can open in shopping malls

EPL would not comment on the this specific case, stating it is now before the court.

“Hopefully, in the future, we’re able to revive the agreement or find another cannabis retailer to pick up the spot.”

The EPL appeal has been scheduled to be heard on Oct. 7.