Courtenay council approves fifth cannabis application

Courtenay council unanimously approved a zoning amendment to allow a non-medical cannabis retailer to open shop at the corner of England and Sixth in the downtown core.

Pending provincial approval, Beaufort Botanicals will operate at 576 England Ave. It will be a family-run business. The proprietors are George Ehrler and Marla Limousin, who own Blue Moon Estate Winery and Nature’s Way Farm. Ehrler was the only person who spoke at a public hearing about the application.

Coun. Doug Hillian noted an area business is worried that drug use might worsen because of the cannabis business.

“As much as I respect the views of that individual, I’m convinced from the presentation by the proponent that we have a solid application from people who respect the community values and will run an appropriate business,” Hillian said at the Sept. 3 meeting. “I think they will do their best to manage any issues related to the consumption of the product that they sell.”

Coun. Melanie McCollum is more concerned around empty storefronts in this area of downtown.

“I think it’s really important that we have businesses establishing themselves on this block and adding to what’s available downtown,” she said. “I think it will probably provide more of a positive than a negative, although of course we haven’t seen any retailers open up in town yet, so it’s all a theory at this point.”

Coun. Wendy Morin thinks the cannabis applications are creating good discussion in the community, noting some people wonder why council approves one application but not another.

“I’ve been trying to base decisions on the regulations and the guidelines that were set by previous council, and also information that comes forward,” said Morin, noting the top priority in the Cannabis Act is to restrict youth access to cannabis. “I’m really confident about this particular application.”

The City is processing applications for cannabis stores on a first-come, first-serve basis. Up to five private retailers are allowed in Courtenay, along with one government-operated store. The provincial government gives final approval for licensing.

Along with Beaufort, council has approved a government store — which opened Sept. 4 at the Washington Park Shopping Mall — and private retailers at Driftwood Mall, the strip mall at 2270 Cliffe Ave. and at 143 Fifth St. near the bridge. Council has denied applications at 379 Fourth St. and at 1025 Cliffe Ave. Another retailer that had been approved at 605/625 Cliffe Ave. withdrew their application.

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