A government-run cannabis store is one step closer to reality in West Kelowna after city councillors narrowly voted 4-3 in favour of a zoning bylaw on Monday night.
Doug Findlater, Carol Zanon and Jason Friesen all voted against the bylaw during third reading citing unfair competition and an unsafe location as to why they were against the proposed cannabis outlet. Council must formerly adopt the bylaw for it to receive final approval.
If the bylaw is adopted, the cannabis store would be located at 2475 Dobbin Road. In addition, a regional BC Cannabis Stores office would also be built on site to help provide administration, management and staff training for other regional cannabis stores.
Councillor Findlater pointed out multiple reasons as to why he didn’t want the project from proceeding.
“I have a problem with the provincial government trying to muscle in outside our process and put a cannabis store in our community to the detriment of other people trying to set their stores up,” Findlater said.
“I also have concerns about the location being in a shopping centre and being across from an elementary school.”
During a public hearing on the project on Nov. 26, local residents also said it was unfair for another cannabis store to set-up shop in West Kelowna given there were already two others operating in the city.
Despite the opposition, mayor Gord Milsom said the new store would help create healthy competition between businesses in the community.
“I will certainly be supporting this project. I don’t think we’d be approving this if we already had six cannabis locations within our municipality.”
“I believe in competition and I think it’s healthy for everyone. This store might appeal to a certain segment of the market that the other businesses may not be.”
The size of the store would be approximately 7,116 square feet and would employ around 20 staff. Wages would start at $21 per hour.
For the project to proceed, the bylaw also has to be approved by the B.C Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.