Storefront cannabis retailer proposed at Cliffe Avenue

Courtenay council approved second reading of a rezoning for a storefront cannabis retailer at 1025 Cliffe Ave., between 10th and 11th streets. The applicant, Fire in the Sky Cannabis, intends to open the business next door to its Smoke on the Water Smoke Shop, which opened in 2011.

Fire in the Sky hosted a February public meeting, which drew about 55 people. The business says attendees generally supported the application, but had some concerns about security and the potential for smell. The owner intends to address both issues by way of carbon filters, venting and a security system that includes cameras, at a minimum.

Up to five private cannabis retailers are allowed in Courtenay, along with one government-operated store. So far, council has approved applications for retailers at Driftwood Mall and 5th Street, and a government store at Washington Park Shopping Mall. Bowser Cannabis had been approved to operate at Cliffe and 6th, but withdrew its application through the province for business viability reasons.

Council denied Leaf Compassion’s application to operate a storefront cannabis outlet at 379 Fourth St. due to concerns from neighboring businesses.

During a recent visit to New Brunswick, Coun. Manno Theos said 19 of 20 cannabis retailers have been losing money.

“It’s going to be a tough business,” he said at Monday’s meeting.

After opening Smoke on the Water Smoke Shop in Courtenay, Fire in the Sky added locations in Campbell River in 2014 and Powell River in 2016. In the company’s first year of business after incorporation in 2014, its gross sales were $1.4 million. Its current sales are $3.5 million for three stores.

Before council considers third reading, a public hearing about Fire in the Sky’s application will be held at 5 p.m. July 2 in council chambers.

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