Council has deferred decision on cannabis store application. THE NEWS/files

Council has deferred decision on cannabis store application. THE NEWS/files

Maple Ridge council defers decision on cannabis store

Wants more info on other proposals

Maple Ridge council postponed a decision at its Oct. 29 meeting on an application for a pot store proposed for part of the Haney Hotel on Lougheed Highway.

A staff report recommended rejection of the application and notes that a cannabis outlet at that location would fall within the one-kilometre distance of another private pot store and a proposed government pot store.

A city policy passed in 2018 specifies the minimum distances between stores.

The report also said that Ridge Meadows RCMP has raised concerns because the store would be located within the Haney Hotel, which also includes a pub. Out of 10 letters received by the city, nine were opposed and one was in favour.

Coun. Chelsa Meadus would like the application to go back to staff, because there are other proposals for cannabis stores.

“I want to look at those and be able to map them out. I’m not in favour of looking at one thing at a time,” Meadus said.

Coun. Judy Dueck said she supports the application, but wants to know if council approves it, what would that mean for other applications that may come to council.

Coun. Gordy Robson noted that doorstep to doorstep, the store meets the one-kilometre distance.

Staff told council that the store would be within a kilometre of a proposed government cannabis store and that there are also applications for five or six other cannabis stores, all within a half a kilometre of each other.

Spirit Leaf was the first cannabis store to open in Maple Ridge back in August.

Robson though noted the government has yet to proceed on a store in the downtown core.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan said that she supports the RCMP’s comments.

“So, I’m not comfortable supporting this, especially given what the RCMP have said.”

Duncan did support deferring it until staff reports back.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef said it wasn’t fair to defer the application because it might take a while for other applications to get provincial approval before going to council.

“Rather than holding up someone who’s ready to go, I think we should assist them in moving forward,” Yousef said.

Hotel owner Yvan Charette said that he understands that council needs more time and information. He wants to build a separate store within the Haney Hotel building, called Green Star Cannabis.

He said that he and staff are continually educated on safety issues and ID compliance. Smoking or vaping of any kind isn’t allowed in the pub.

“You have to be on the ball,” he said. “I’m very sensitive to that.” The report gave council the option of deferral and said the applicant then could be asked to apply for a zoning amendment.