Two legal cannabis retail locations on Chemainus Road are in the works after being approved by the Municipality of North Cowichan following virtual public hearings.
Once all the necessary conditions are finalized, Platinum Cannabis Store will be located at 9568 Chemainus Rd. – the former Carlos Place site – and Violet Wild Cannabis Co. at 9750 Chemainus Rd., the previous Leaf Compassion address.
Rezoning public hearings were conducted on-line July 15.
North Cowichan council voted 4-1 in favour of the Platinum Cannabis Store for non-medical cannabis retail.
Founder Kyle Cheyne, who owned the previous Leaf Compassion site in Chemainus, noted lots of support letters were emailed to North Cowichan, along with a couple of negative ones.
“The negative ones were just about the parking for the most part,” he indicated. “Some think the three parking stalls we have out front won’t be enough so we have connected with two neighbours that are willing to rent parking across from us once provincially approved. If we end up leasing the parking lot right across from us beside the house it will give us another 10-15 more parking stalls.”
Cheyne added the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP wrote a letter asking council to deny the application. His previous store did not have a business license from North Cowichan and was raided by RCMP before eventually shutting down as the cannabis legalization process began.
“I hope over the years we can form an understanding with the local RCMP by continuing to provide a professional service,” Cheyne noted. “Before legalization, access was very confusing for everyone.”
The property will not be officially rezoned until the province issues a licence, Cheyne explained. “Once we get rezoned, we should be open within a month from that time. The entire approval system is backed up so it can take a year or even longer. I hope it’s a lot sooner then that.”
Platinum Cannabis Store will also be opening in Port Alberni and Ganges on Salt Spring Island in the near future.
Violet Wild Cannabis is a family affair owned by sisters Terra Maibach and Sonja Riddle, with a boost from their mother Jill Maibach. They’ll be setting up shop in Cheyne’s former Leaf Compassion site.
Third reading was given by North Cowichan council following their portion of the virtual public hearing.
“It took a long process,” conceded Terra Maibach, with the application caught in the COVID-19 crunch.
“March 18 we were scheduled for a public hearing and they shut down on the 16th.”
When the virtual public hearing was finally held, Maibach said about three minutes was allotted to speak and a couple of people called in.
“At this point, it’s back to the province and we’re waiting for our final approval.”
Being in compliance is important to them as they go through the process.
“We want to respect the North Cowichan Municipality, take the steps we needed to while we continue to work with the provincial government,” said Maibach. “We have to provide them the copies of our finalized branding which we have and other odds and ends. We want to be compliant in every way, another reason why we’ve been waiting on the renovation.”
They’re leasing the building where they will operate.
Patience will be a virtue in the days and weeks ahead until they hear from the province.
“We’re looking to see what our next steps are,” noted Maibach. “They continue to do a bit of an investigation.
“I don’t think it’s going to be too long, I hope. I never know with the timing. Now it’s even more unknown. COVID affects every business in different ways.”
Their planning has been ongoing for a year and a half, including at least a year with the Municipality. Maibach said she’s been taking the time to educate herself, taking some courses and going on-line to learn about the industry and focusing on the retail side.
To say the Maibachs and Riddle are getting a little anxious is an understatement.
“I just want to get out there and provide the brand and the benefits of cannabis,” Terra emphasized. “I really do believe in the industry and the product.”