Jeff Sweetnam owns SpiritLeaf, the first cannabis store to open in Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS – files)

Council OKs first step for second Maple Ridge pot store

Applicant told to seek zoning bylaw change

Maple Ridge council has told the operators of the Haney Hotel to apply for a zoning bylaw change that could allow a second legal cannabis store to open in the downtown.

Council, last week, decided against a staff recommendation that called for rejecting a proposal for the store and instead directed the hotel to request a zoning bylaw text change.

“I think we have a supply problem in this community … and I think this application should be supported,” said Coun. Gordy Robson.

Government-operated cannabis stores “don’t appear to be surfacing … I don’t know why,” he added.

Read more: Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Maple Ridge currently has one legal cannabis store, Spiritleaf, which opened last August in ValleyFair Mall.

The city’s bylaw requires a minimum of one kilometre between non-medicinal cannabis stores.

Staff, at council’s Dec. 10 meeting, recommended rejection of the application because the distance between the property lines from the hotel to Spiritleaf is just less than a kilometre.

However, when measured door-to-door, the one-kilometre distance requirement between the two stores is met, Robson said.

The application passed the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch requirements, after which the branch forwarded the application to the city.

Read more: Council approves first private pot store in Maple Ridge

Planning and development services general manager Christine Carter told council that a text amendment to the zoning bylaw would apply to the Haney Hotel location only.

Coun. Judy Dueck said that the city is dealing with cannabis store applications on a case-by-case basis and supported the decision.

The city doesn’t get many complaints about either liquor or cannabis stores, “so that tells you something,” she added.

However, Coun. Kiersten Duncan voted against the application, noting that the RCMP has raised concerns with a cannabis store being located in the same building as a pub.

Read more: Maple Ridge council defers decision on cannabis store

Staff told council that the RCMP’s comments weren’t directed towards the Haney Hotel, in particular, but generally to pot stores being located next to liquor stores.

However, police didn’t address that scenario where Spiritleaf is located close to a liquor store.

Mayor Mike Morden said council is continuing with its cautious approach towards cannabis and treating it similarly to alcohol.

A public process would be required to make the text change, he added.

Spiritleaf opened in August, selling cannabis flower, rolled joints, oils and CBD products.

But by Christmas time, the store will have edible cannabis products, such as gummy candies, chocolates and concentrates.

Edible cannabis products have been legal since October, but have been delayed for two months by Health Canada.

Applications to open recreational cannabis stores must all go to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch of B.C.

If those applications meet government standards, they’re then forwarded to each city council for final approval.

Maple Ridge regulations also give preference to stores operated by the government.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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