Courtenay council has given the green light to Coast Range Cannabis to open a second store in the Comox Valley, this one at the Crown Isle Shopping Centre at the Lerwick/Ryan intersection.
This is the seventh cannabis retail application to be approved, even though council had limited the number to six.
Manno Theos was the only member of council to oppose the application from Coast Range, which opened its first shop on Church Street in Comox in 2019. Though impressed with the Coast Range Comox store, Theos is concerned that council has not considered the measure of impacts in neighbourhoods where cannabis retailers have opened.
“Since we set up a maximum, I feel that conversation absolutely has to happen before we expand on our numbers,” Theos said at the March 1 meeting.
Coun. Doug Hillian noted the policy guideline regarding cannabis retail numbers can be exceeded if council chooses. He also noted that no objections arose at a public hearing about the Coast Range application.
“This is a legal product, and there have been no issues arise with the shops that have established elsewhere,” Hillian said.
Some residents, however, have opposed the application, for various reasons, in written comments to the city.
Mayor Bob Wells noted that crime in Canadian communities with cannabis retailers has decreased due to security measures such as increased lighting and cameras. He added that police have not indicated concern about negative impacts from cannabis outlets.
To date, four cannabis retailers have opened in Courtenay, including the government store at the Washington Park Shopping Mall, while two of the approved applicants have yet to open.
“I think we’re providing an opportunity for people to be able to get their product in that area,” Coun. Wendy Morin said. “I really don’t see any issues around it.”
Theos, however, has seen a steady stream of youths entering the Crown Isle mall, which already contains a liquor store. He worries about the number of young people affected by drugs in a negative way.
“I’m not seeing the successes that some of you might be encouraged by with these kinds of stores,” Theos said. “I would like to see how the six pan out, and give it some time.”
Morin said alcohol is more problematic than cannabis, which can be used to contain pain, anxiety and other afflictions. She added that people are dying from a toxic drug supply — namely opioids — which often stems from prescription medication.