Maple Ridge council decided not to change its bylaws requiring 1,000 metres between retail cannabis outlets, but The Muse will proceed with its proposed new store.
Mike McKee explained his company will continue to pursue the new outlet at Westgate Shopping Centre, near the corner of Lougheed Highway and 203rd Street. This despite a government cannabis retail outlet proposed at 20690 Lougheed Highway, near 207th Street, and within the 1,000m limit.
Council defeated a motion to remove the 1,000m minimum distance separation between cannabis stores at its July 14 meeting.
“By removing this, we’re going to see a lot more cannabis stores,” argued Coun. Kiersten Duncan. “I haven’t heard a good reason to remove it.”
Coun. Chelsea Meadus argued to remove the 1,000m limit, saying she has received no complaints about the existing cannabis retail outlet.
“The market will decide how many cannabis stores will survive,” she said. “Clearly Maple Ridge can support a lot of liquor stores. Maybe we can support a lot of cannabis stores.”
Duncan’s argument won out, and the motion to remove the 1,000m separation was defeated in a 4-2 vote. That means retailers who are nearer an existing outlet will need to go through a rezoning process with four readings of council and a public hearing.
The company has already started the process. McKee said the Muse has already filed an application for rezoning.
He noted Vancouver has a 300m setback between cannabis stores, and said 1,000m is “quite a distance.”
He hopes to get through the process by fall, and start work on the new store early in 2021.
Muse is a family owned business, and is the cannabis-selling sister brand to the Jak’s Beer Wine and Spirits chain of 16 stores. There is a Jak’s at Westgate, and McKee said it has been a great location. They will be limited to eight cannabis retail outlets, and chose Maple Ridge.
“We love Maple Ridge. We love the shopping centre,” he said, adding that the mix of a grocery store, pharmacy, coffee shop, liquor store and dollar store all bring a lot of consumers.
“We’re another add to that shopping mix.”
McKee told city council he has received more than 320 letters of support for the new cannabis store.
“It’s an amenity consumers in this are looking for,” he said.
He runs the business with his brother-in-law Geoff Dear. McKee said the Jak’s brand has been around for 30 years, and they have “extensive experience with controlled substances.”
They also have extensive experience dealing with the province in liquor sales.
“They’re not only your wholesaler, they’re also your competitor,” he said. “We’re used to it.”
McKee said both new stores in Maple Ridge would be “very viable.”
There was some question whether the government store will go ahead, and city staff noted they are being held up by access issues for traffic turning off the Lougheed.