Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Kelowna city council rejects bid for Rutland pot shop

The store would be too close to other properties zoned for cannabis sales, said staff

After trying for a second time, a cannabis store will not get its proposed location in Kelowna.

Kelowna city council voted not to consider a bylaw amendment that would allow Kootenay Cannabis to operate at 1604-1620 Powick Road. The amendment would allow for a retail cannabis sales establishment within 500 metres of another property zoned for retail cannabis sales and within 500 metres of a school. According to a city staff report, the bylaws are intended to avoid clustering of multiple stores and to restrict the proximity of retail cannabis to potentially sensitive uses and user groups.

Coun. Brad Sieben voted for the motion, saying retail cannabis isn’t a free market. Council needs to make sure that it is a level playing field for businesses, he added.

Coun. Luke Stack agreed, noting that Kelowna currently has 24 approved cannabis sites. He also noted that cannabis is still a regulated substance, even though it is decriminalized in Canada.

“This policy was put in place so we don’t get overwhelmed with cannabis stores,” he said.

Coun. Charlie Hodge opposed the motion, saying the bylaw is backwards. He said the city doesn’t have the same guidelines for other facilities such as liquor stores and restaurants.

“I’m disappointed to see where this is going,” said Hodge. “I think we’re making an error here.”

Many councillors were on the fence about the motion, saying that they are not opposed to a public hearing on the issue. Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said he also has concerns about market saturation but pointed to the number of liquor stores the city has. “I would like to see a comparison between (liquor stores and cannabis stores),” he said.

In the end, city council voted to adopt city staff’s recommendations not to grant bylaw amendments to Kootenay Cannabis. Only Wooldridge, Hodge and Mayor Colin Basran voted against the motion.

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paula.tran@kelownacapnews.com

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cannabisCannabis LegislationCity of Kelowna