Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District weighs pair of cannabis store applications

Proposed cannabis stores located on Alberni Highway

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) will be holding public meetings to discuss two potential retail cannabis stores, located right across the street from one another in Cherry Creek.

The applications for two non-medical cannabis retail stores have been forwarded to the ACRD from the provincial government. The properties are both located on the Alberni Highway, within 85 metres of one another.

The first application, for Alberni Cannabis Co., is located next to the Alberni Liquor Store at 2970 Alberni Highway.

Green Coast Cannabis, located across the street at 2945 Alberni Highway, has also applied for a licence, as well as a temporary use permit (TUP). The property on that side of the highway is zoned Highway Commercial District, which does not allow for retail sale of non-medical cannabis according to ACRD policies. In addition, the site was operating illegally prior to new cannabis regulations in October 2018.

Several ACRD directors expressed concern about the applications being so close together during a board meeting on Wednesday, April 10. Tofino mayor Josie Osborne pointed out that the ACRD set out a policy on where cannabis retail stores would be accepted, which includes a 300-metre separation distance from existing stores. Green Coast Cannabis is also located within the wrong zone and requires the TUP in order to operate.

“I’m quite troubled by this application,” she said. “I’m troubled by the fact that we’re willing to go outside the policy that we’ve established, and I’m also troubled by the fact that this business was operating unlawfully until now and is now attempting to legalize through a TUP process. The distance between the two sites also violates the policy that we established.”

She added that the ACRD has never discussed how to evaluate one application over another.

“We don’t have a policy that helps us look at how many we wish to issue, how we would evaluate if several were close together,” she said. “I’m not comfortable with this approach to licensing cannabis in the Alberni Valley.”

Beaver Creek director John McNabb, however, said he was not troubled by the distance between the two applications because they are located on opposite sides of the highway.

“The people coming into town likely would go to the one, and the people going out of town would likely go to the other one,” he explained. “The people that are transient, going through the community, it’s an opportunity for them to stop. It’s an opportunity for somebody to make a dollar in a legal sort of fashion.”

The City of Port Alberni has already approved five retail cannabis stores, one of which is a government-run store located just down the highway at the Pacific Rim Shopping Centre.

READ: Port Alberni council approves two more retail cannabis stores

A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at the Cherry Creek Community Hall to receive public input on the application for Alberni Cannabis Co. A public meeting for Green Coast Cannabis has not been scheduled yet, but will likely take place in the coming weeks. After the public meetings, the board will pass a resolution supporting or not supporting the applications.

Even if an application is supported by the ACRD, the proponents still have a lengthy process to go through with the province before they are able to open.

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