Revelstoke City Council has approved a development variance permit for a second cannabis store in town.
The variance was needed because the property that the proposed store is located on is less than 10 metres away from the property where Summit Cannabis Co. is located, and the current zoning bylaw does not allow for cannabis stores to be located within 100 metres of each other.
At the public hearing on Aug. 13, council hear from both the Summit store owner as well as the applicant, Revelsmoke. There were also several written submissions from the public on the issue.
One letter came from Stephanie deJager, who identified herself as a long time resident of Revelstoke and a medical cannabis user.
“As more and more individuals are choosing cannabis as their medicine, having more than one retail business can only help to ensure that prices are kept within acceptable levels, and people are not taken advantage of with inflated prices,” she wrote. “It also provides for some healthy competition and maybe they could work together to ensure that many strains are available in our community specifically for medical patients. Revelstoke should never get in the habit of giving one business the monopoly in town.”
Mark McKee, owner of the building where Revelsmoke is located, also voiced his support in a letter to city staff.
He said he is confident that if the variance were approved the second cannabis retail store would be a positive addition to Revelstoke’s business community.
Several other neighbours expressed their support for the variance permit including the owners of Your Office & Art Supplies across the road.
However, the owner of Summit Cannabis Co., Chad Hollett, said that he feels the current bylaw is correct, fair and should be honoured.
“To know that our business will have a competitor next door and now maybe even across the street is crushing to us,” Hollett said, at the meeting.
Revelstoke’s cannabis framework, which included amendments to four different bylaws, was approved by the outgoing city council in October. A survey was done prior to approval to collect public feedback on cannabis sales and use within the city.
Councillor Nicole Cherlet acknowledged Hollett’s concern that this variance would be creating a ‘Green Mile’ in Revelstoke, saying that despite proximity of the applicants to Summit, she doesn’t feel that approving this variance will create that affect.
Councillor Rob Elliott said he understood Hollett’s concerns about competition but believes that both businesses will thrive in Revelstoke.
Councillor Steven Cross agreed, saying that in his experience distance doesn’t matter much when all of the competition is within walking distance.
All of the councillors and the mayor voted in favour of approving the variance. They did not, however, vote to approve the second motion that was proposed which would have seen city staff prepare amendments to the Zoning Bylaw to refine location criteria for non-medical cannabis retail stores or establish a cap on the number of businesses within Revelstoke.
“We have bigger fish to fry,” said councillor Jackie Rhind.