Sidney rejects proposal for third cannabis location in community

Despite a staff recommendation supporting for what would have been Sidney’s third retail location for recreational cannabis, council signalled its opposition to the application by a vote of 5-2. The proposed store would have been located in the 9700-block on Third Street sharing space with other businesses. (Black Press Media File)

Concern over proximity to other cannabis retail locations was among the factors that doomed what would have been Sidney’s third retail location for recreational cannabis.

Council voted 5-2 with Couns. Peter Wainwright and Sara Duncan opposed to signal its opposition to an application from Jima Cannabis to open a store in the 9700-block of Third Street.

Only the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) can approve or deny licenses, but municipalities can shape the process by signalling support or opposition after receiving public feedback. Council’s signal of opposition effectively ends the business’ application.

Council’s decision to vote came after receiving a staff report that found a majority of written submissions opposed the application while staff supported it.

According to the staff report, eight out of 14 submissions opposed, with the most common reason being the number of applications. “We have (two) cannabis stores,” wrote Helen Evans. “That is enough, thank you. Do not think any more are needed. We don’t want to be known as a cannabis town.”

Staff, however, did not appear swayed. “Regarding the number of stores in Sidney, staff’s recommendation continues to be for the town to avoid ‘picking winners’ and to let the market determine the demand for stores as with any other retail operation,” it reads. Thanks to its status as the commercial centre for the northern Saanich Peninsula, Sidney also services North Saanich, which does not permit cannabis retail. According to the report, the combined population of both municipalities is about 24,000.

Supporters, meanwhile, pointed to the economic benefits, as argued by Nicole Clark, who also said that legal stores help eliminate the “black market selling of the product which could be laced with other narcotics or chemicals.”

The business passed its “fit and proper assessment” by the LCRB and Sidney staff point out the store’s proposed use, location and hours of operation are consistent with Sidney’s liquor and cannabis licensing policy as well as its zoning bylaw.

“Staff anticipate that the store’s operations would not represent any atypical disturbance (such as noise and traffic) to nearby residents and businesses over and above what would typically be expected in the commercial area,” it reads. “The proposed location has both on-site parking, as well as on-street parking in close proximity; additional parking is not required by bylaw.”

These argument, however, did not sway the majority of council. Council, in late February, approved Sidney’s second recreational cannabis retail location (Buds Cannabis) but in December 2020 refused to comment on an application by Seed and Stone, effectively ending that application.

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