Another retail cannabis store is moving into Kelowna’s north end.
Council approved an application by Vibona Enterprises to rezone a property at 1310 St. Paul Street from general industrial to central business commercial (retail cannabis sales) at a public hearing on Mar. 1. One area resident, who lives on Ellis Street, raised concerns about security issues in the neighbourhood, and the proximity of a private school on Cawston Avenue to the north of the St. Paul property.
However, city staff told council that current bylaws do not consider private schools, only public schools in terms of distance restrictions. According to the City of Kelowna website, retail cannabis stores must be a minimum of 150 metres from elementary schools and select parks, and 500 metres from middle and secondary schools and other retail cannabis stores. The private school had proposed relocating two blocks to the west a few months ago. City staff indicated that move could be at least a year or two away. Council was mostly supportive of the rezoning, with Councillors Gail Given and Maxine DeHart opposed.
“It’s important we address residents’ concerns,” said Given.
She also questioned staff regarding the cannabis store potentially being located next to a bottle depot.
“In another area of town when we had liquor sales outlet in close proximity to a bottle depot it did create quite some concern.”
Staff responded there were no official concerns made.
In supporting the rezoning, Councillor Luke Stack noted St. Paul Street has been in transition for many years, moving from industrial to commercial.
“We have seen letters in this neighbourhood for the last couple of years that there is some disorder, some vagrancy issues with people coming and going, said Stack. “I honestly believe overall the way out of this and seeing the improvement is to see the rezonings proceed. The further the street gets along, and the more it gets developed, the better the environment will be.”
Coun. Given also asked staff about the number of retail cannabis stores compared to liquor store outlets in the city.
“It seems to me that we’re starting to get fairly close to an equal balance and potentially a saturation,” she said.
City staff is currently working on a comprehensive update on cannabis that will be presented to council at a future date.