The proponents of seven proposed retail cannabis shops made their pitch to council recently, emphasizing their philanthropy, customer service and other businesses.
Having already set a four-shop limit for Abbotsford, council is faced with an upcoming decision on which of the seven proposals will be chosen to proceed, and which will be scrapped.
The shops are all located in seven shopping centers that have already been pre-zoned to allow for cannabis sales. (One proposal for a location not already pre-zoned did not proceed to the hearing.)
The seven applications are:
• BC Cannabis Store at Highstreet Shopping Centre.
• Honeycomb Cannabis at Meadow Fair Plaza (31940 South Fraser Way) in the Clearbrook neighbourhood.
• Meta Cannabis Supply Co. at Clearbrook Town Square (32500 South Fraser Way) in the city centre.
• A Little Bud at West Oaks Mall (32700 South Fraser Way) in the city centre.
• Sweed Cannabis Store at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre (32900 South Fraser Way) in the city centre.
• This is Cannabis at Abbotsford Village Shopping Centre (2070 Sumas Way) at the intersection of Sumas Way and South Fraser Way.
• Muse Cannabis Store at Parallel Marketplace (1920 North Parallel Road) in East Abbotsford.
The majority of the hour-long meeting comprised presentations by the operators of the seven proposals.
All seven proponents have permission to operate cannabis outlets in other B.C. cities, and each used their successes elsewhere to argue that their Abbotsford location would be good corporate and social citizens.
Swede Cannabis Store, A Little Bud, Honeycomb promised to donate a percentage of profits to local non-profit organizations. Muse, meanwhile, emphasized donations made from other outlets and affiliated liquor stores to charities and food banks.
And This Is Cannabis, which operates an outlet in Chilliwack, cited philanthropic and charity work in that community as an indication of its commitment to give back locally.
Only a handful of residents spoke, with two opposed to all retail cannabis sales in Abbotsford. All but one of the remaining citizens spoke in support of Honeycomb Cannabis and its proponents, one of whom was a pharmacist at Kinghaven Treatment Centre. That included Kinghaven’s executive director Milt Walker, who began by saying he didn’t “favour the sale of any mood-altering drugs” in the city.
One other resident spoke in favor of the Muse proposal.
The city also encouraged and welcomed written feedback, the deadline for which has passed.
Staff will now compile all the feedback and submissions into a report for council, which will be tasked with deciding which outlets can open.
Coun. Les Barkman has recused himself from the issue “out of abundance of caution owing to a potential apprehension of bias pending an opportunity to seek legal advice on this issue.”