Another cannabis proposal has come before Courtenay council.

Cannabis retailer vows to support affordable housing in Courtenay

A cannabis retailer is proposing to support affordable housing projects in Courtenay by gifting some of its profits to the City, pending approval of its storefront application at 605/625 Cliffe Ave.

Inspired Cannabis Company has indicated it will offer a “cash continuation” of $10,000 to an affordable housing reserve fund, according to a staff report to council. The applicant also wishes to offer one per cent of annual storefront sales — projected to be about $20,000 – towards affordable housing projects.

The proposed store falls within a 400-metre buffer of two other properties zoned for cannabis retail sales, and within a 300-metre buffer of a playground, though the Riverside Fit Park does not contain a children’s playground. Staff recommends that council proceed with the proposal.

“Although we’ve turned down a couple of these (applications) because they’ve been close to playgrounds, I think the high-visibility of this location is a positive, even though it is within that buffer zone,” Coun. Wendy Morin said at Monday’s meeting. “I was also pleased to see some of the contributions that this business was willing to make in terms of amenities.”

Coun. Will Cole-Hamilton is impressed the applicant gathered 56 signatures from supportive residents and businesses in the area.

Up to five private cannabis retailers are allowed in Courtenay, along with one government-operated store. Council has approved a government store at the Washington Park Shopping Mall, and private shops at Driftwood Mall, the strip mall at 2270 Cliffe Ave., at 143 Fifth St. and at 576 England Ave. Council has denied applications at 379 Fourth St. and at 1025 Cliffe Ave. Council had approved an application from Terracotta Holdings to operate a store at Courtenay Mall (605/625 Cliffe), but the company withdrew its application.

The government store is the only outlet that has opened for business. Building permits have been issued for 2270 Cliffe and 143 Fifth, while the proponents at Driftwood and England Avenue have not applied for permits.

“This doesn’t seem to be the cash cow that many people thought it was,” Coun. Doug Hillian said. “I still wonder about the viability of all these businesses, but it is in fact a legal product and we have a process here that regulates it to a certain extent.”

Hillian questioned why the stores are taking so long to open. Matt Fitzgerald, manager of development planning, noted that applicants need final licensing approval from the B.C. government. He also suggested that businesses need time to set up shop.

As for the possibility of an ongoing dedication of money from Inspired Cannabis, Fitzgerald said the offer is a voluntary amenity contribution.

A public hearing about the application will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 6 in council chambers.

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