Courtenay council has turned down Leaf Compassion’s application to operate a storefront cannabis outlet at 379 Fourth St.
Had council approved the application, City staff said the downtown core was in danger of losing neighboring businesses which strongly opposed the application.
Runge’s Deli owner Monika Ferguson said large groups congregated, and at times blocked the sidewalk when Leaf had briefly opened last year.
“Our customers felt intimidated,” Ferguson wrote in a letter to the City. She notes the smell of cannabis from people smoking behind Leaf would waft into her premises during warm weather.
“Why should our customers and staff have to endure this sickening smell? I am concerned that I will lose customers.”
The City also received letters of opposition from Assante Wealth Management and a health practitioner at The Hub on Fourth Street. Staff at Assante say garbage has accumulated in their back garden and seating area since the start of Leaf’s tenancy. Female staffers also have security concerns.
While Leaf’s public information meeting garnered positive feedback, the City notes that comments mostly came from people outside the immediate area of the business.
“It seems to me that businesses survive based on their reputation,” Coun. Doug Hillian said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We did hear a lot of concerns in this neighbourhood previously regarding this particular operation. That appears to be coming into roost now. It’s unfortunate, but that seems to be the seeds that have been sown here.”
Leaf Compassion began to operate a cannabis resource and information centre in 2018. The business had been denied a licence to establish a non-medical cannabis dispensary in 2017, before the legalization of non-medical cannabis. Leaf appealed to council to reconsider, but council upheld staff’s decision.
Up to five private cannabis retailers are allowed in Courtenay, along with one government-operated store. Council has approved previous applications for retailers at Driftwood Mall, 5th Street and Courtenay Mall (Cliffe and 6th), and a proposed government store at Washington Park Shopping Mall. These have come with little or no opposition. Leaf’s location falls within 400 metres of the Urban Smoke Shop at 143-5th St. and Bowser Cannabis, to be located at 625 Cliffe Ave. A City policy suggests a cannabis retailer be at least 400 metres from another outlet.