Coast Range Cannabis has applied to the City of Courtenay to operate a store at the Crown Isle shopping centre. If approved, it would be the seventh retail cannabis establishment in Courtenay, but only the second store east of the Courtenay River. Of the other six approved locations, four stores are operating, while two (Driftwood Mall and 576 England Ave.) are still in the licensing phase.
An approved application would exceed a storefront cannabis retail policy that sets a limit at six stores in the city. However, a staff report states that council “could exceed this number if it believes an additional store is warranted.”
Coast Range Cannabis opened a shop last year at Church Street in Comox. The company’s proposal for Courtenay has drawn mixed reviews from the public.
The owners of a unit in ‘The Grove’ strata next to the Crown Isle Plaza support the application. Another resident said a second Coast Range location would be an “asset to the Valley.”
“The addition of this store would benefit the entire area of East Courtenay,” wrote a third person who dislikes navigating the “horrible parking lot” at the Washington Park Shopping Mall to access the government cannabis store.
Other respondents object to the proposed location. Some say it is too close to Isfeld Secondary. Several expressed preference for a pub or restaurant.
“I have seen some of the clientele that some of these stores attract, and I strongly suggest they look at another location,” one person wrote. “We do not need them here.”
“I think a store like this may bring in crime,” another stated.
A couple at Monarch Drive are “dead against” the locale, which is about 150 yards from their residence.
“We do not need a store that sells drugs in our neighbourhood…That type of retail outlet would detract from property values in nearby residences.”
At the Oct. 19 council meeting, Melanie McCollum said she has not heard much negative feedback about cannabis stores.
Wendy Morin, who favours the proposed location, noted that Coast Range Cannabis pays more than minimum wage to employees at the Comox store.
Will Cole-Hamilton feels that cannabis stores are unobtrusive, and Doug Hillian pointed out that ordinary people frequent cannabis shops.
Council approved second reading of the application, which necessitates a public hearing.