Urban Smoke Shop on Fifth Street has applied to the City of Courtenay for a storefront cannabis business licence. Scott Stanfield photo

Opinions vary about cannabis proposal at 5th Street

One person spoke in favour of a proposed storefront cannabis business at 143 Fifth St., but another feels the application has breached too many rules.

The proponents of Urban Smoke Shop want to convert the store into a non-medical cannabis retailer — the third such application received by the City of Courtenay. Anderton Avenue resident Carly Neil, who frequents the shop, supports the application due to its location and because “any money spent there will circulate locally,” she said at a public hearing Monday at Courtenay council.

“We want people to have a good experience,” said Angela van den Hooven, owner of Urban Smoke Shop. “We care about the growing practices of the products we would sell…We have a very loyal customer base, customers that come from all walks of life.”

The City is processing nine rezoning applications for cannabis businesses on a first-come, first-serve basis. Up to five private retailers are allowed in Courtenay, along with one government-operated store.

“It’s not only too close to other proposed stores, but very close to a park,” Patricia Curry said. “Some applicants seems like they’re ignoring the rules in my opinion. I am, in fact, one of the applicants, and I did take my time to find a good location.”

Which wasn’t her preferred location.

“I am against first-come, first-serve, because some of the applicants are not following the regulations,” Curry said. “It should be, in my opinion, best of six.”

Arden Road resident Sean Bell supports Curry.

“In my opinion, the rules that you guys (council) set forth is like a Bible,” he said.

van den Hooven said bylaws have been created with some wiggle room, as shown by the first approved store in Vancouver, which she said was closer to a playground.

“We’ve been at this location for seven years,” she said, noting each customer will receive a leaflet that explains where cannabis can be used.

The City says Urban Smoke’s proposal satisfies its Storefront Cannabis Retailers Policy, except for a 300-metre distance requirement from playgrounds. The closest park is a fitness area 70-plus metres away on Anderton, though the park is not designated as a children’s playground. There is also a small playground about 240 metres away at Simms Park, which the City notes is separated by the river.

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