Vernon city council votes to retain control over retail cannabis approvals

Higher Cannabis opened its doors June 1, 2020, at the Squires Four Public House on Stickle Road in Vernon. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vernon city councillors will maintain their authority to approve recreational cannabis retailer applications.

City staff was asked May 25 to examine the possibility of council delegating approvals to administration to streamline application processes, but after further discussion July 20, council decided against it.

Coun. Scott Anderson said he had a “real problem with this one,” as the city doesn’t have the same type of policies around recreational cannabis as it does for alcohol establishments.

“This is simply turning a responsibility to staff who will look at it from a staff point of view which involves a different set of criteria than we do,” he said, adding until clear policies have been established he’s not in favour of “relinquishing that power.”

Coun. Kelly Fehr disagreed.

He said administration would be using the same framework as council to approve applications from recreational cannabis retailers.

Fehr pointed to recent reports from bylaw and RCMP noting there have been “zero issues around cannabis shops.”

Delegating approvals to staff, Fehr said, would reduce administration hours and shorten applicant’s waiting time by around a month.

Coun. Kari Gares underscored Anderson’s point.

“We need specific policies to have a streamlined process and we simply don’t have that in this matter,” she said.

The motion was defeated with only Fehr in favour of passing the responsibility onto administration.

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