Kerri Lore, director of corporate policy with the BC government’s Liquor Distribution Branch, addresses Salmon Arm council on Jan. 28 regarding the government cannabis retail store proposed for the SmartCentres site. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Provincial cannabis store is set for the Shuswap

B.C. cannabis store becomes Salmon Arm’s sixth successful retail application

In the end, the city’s cannabis policy played a prime role in council’s decision to approve an application from the provincial government for a retail cannabis outlet at the SmartCentres site.

The application is the seventh council has received; five of the six previous private applications were approved. Four will be in the downtown – the maximum number permitted under the city’s cannabis policy – with the fifth in Canoe. The one application turned down did not meet the city’s policy guidelines regarding proximity to schools.

Salmon Arm council voted unanimously to approve the province’s application on Monday evening, Jan. 28, but not before considerable discussion, much of it centred on government competition with private enterprise.

In addition to Kerri Lore, director of corporate policy with the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, council heard from James Young, who described himself as a former local businessman who now mentors businesses in the downtown.

Related link: Province proposes Salmon Arm cannabis retail outlet

He expressed his opposition to the application, stating it is an uneven field with private owners having to put up time and resources for their businesses while the provincial government store does not fall under the same rules or licensing.

“In my view, it’s… a little bit of double dipping,” he said, referring to taxpayer financing.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren asked Young if he sees this differently than government liquor stores, and he said, no, it’s the same.

Young also read a letter from successful cannabis store applicant Gord Erickson, who was sick and unable to attend.

Erickson wrote that the government competition would lead to the closure of some downtown retailers. He said while people might think government competition works with liquor, “The liquor system is broken. It’s still a wholesale monopoly, competing with taxpayers using the same taxpayer’s money.”

Other letters included: one from SmartCentres in favour of the application; Acuity Advisors LLP who wrote in opposition, stating many of their clients own businesses downtown. Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo wrote to say governments in B.C. shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to introduce unfair and unnecessary competition, while the Greenery Cannabis Boutique suggested council revisit its cannabis policy to restrict the number of stores outside the downtown core.

Coun. Chad Eliason noted the B.C. government is already selling cannabis online in Salmon Arm, which Young said is fine as it can promote safety and age restrictions – but he objects to the “bricks and mortar.”

Government rep Lore said the province is committed to following municipal rules. Asked by Mayor Alan Harrison if it investigates how many private applications are in place before going into a community, she said the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is separate from the Liquor Distribution Branch, so unless a municipality discloses that information, the distribution branch doesn’t know. She said it would be “a conflict of interest” if the regulation branch informed the distribution branch. She said the province only goes into communities with over 10,000 residents.

Eliason recounted how he had lobbied hard years ago to keep the liquor store designation out of SmartCentres in order to protect downtown, yet a liquor store went up across the highway instead. (Liquor stores and financial institutions are excluded from the C-8 zoning at SmartCentres, but cannabis retail stores aren’t.) He noted that the yet-to-be-constructed building could potentially bring in $90,000 per year in property taxes.

Related: Salmon Arm Council approves two of three retail cannabis applications

Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, confirmed the application, which the city received Nov. 27, adheres to the city’s cannabis policy in terms of location and zoning.

Coun. Kevin Flynn emphasized he wasn’t directing his comments personally at Lore, but said, “I think people who put their applications in before you people are put in a very unfair position. I’m of the belief if we were going to have private cannabis, it should have stayed private.”

Nevertheless, councillors noted they don’t have the power to stop a higher level of government, nor is the application in conflict with their relatively new cannabis policy, which was created from research and public consultation.

“From a policy and community point of view, I don’t see how we can turn this down,” Flynn said.

Couns. Lindgren, Louise Wallace Richmond and Debbie Cannon declared that, although they sympathize with private owners, they would follow the policy. Coun. Tim Lavery said the policy was given serious consideration and he thinks private ventures could have considered the possibility of government stores as a risk factor.

Wallace Richmond said she sees opportunities for innovation in the industry and recounted how the mayor of Kamloops recently talked about the benefits of the provincial cannabis store there, saying the city is becoming well-known for cannabis and given nicknames like Kamsterdam.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Helevorn comes to Kelowna on first Canadian tour

The Spaniards will bring their brand of doom metal to Kelowna May 11

Okanagan College program enacts remote smartphone chargers

Project ReCharge is making some additions to local parks

One day cat cafe comes to Lake Country

The Lake Country Art Gallery will host the adoption event

The Lonely to celebrate Roy Orbison’s music

The tribute show will come to Kelowna Sept. 27

No one hurt in West Kelowna rollover

The crash took place at Sonoma Pines Drive and Carrington Road

VIDEO: Are you concerned about Facebook leaking personal information?

Local Okanagan Facebook users speak on the social platform’s privacy settings

Okanagan city caps downtown cannabis retail applications

Four currently approved, two more coming, moratorium in place, reviewed after 12 months

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Summerland auxiliary raised $1M for hospital tower

Funds came from sales at Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Eagle’s nest receives reno after Chase grass fire

BC Hydro used to dealing with osprey nests, not so much with bald eagles

Amber alert issued for 5-year-old Ontario boy

Ethan Montes is believed to be in the company of his mother, 47-year-old Juliet Mohammed

Air Canada schedule changing out of South Okanagan, at least for the summer

Air Canada released their updated schedule out of the Penticton airport on Thursday

Workshop digs up water wise gardens

Learn about Xeriscape gardening in the Okanagan

Most Read