Press "Enter" to skip to content

Proposed cannabis store decision pushed

From The Merritt Herald by Jake Courtepatte June 28 2021

The decision to recommend a licence to a new cannabis shop downtown has been pushed to a later date after receiving public input.

Unity Cannabis, the first cannabis shop owned by an Indigenous reserve in Canada and based out of Williams Lake, is looking to set up its second shop at the old Adelphi Hotel.

At the June 22 City Council meeting, it was put forth to Council that they recommend to the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch that a Non-Medical Retail Store Licence be issued to the shop.

The call was put out to the public for their opinion.

“This was hand-delivered to neighbours, a sign was put up in the window of the Adelphi Hotel, there was a notice in the Merritt Herald, and on the City of Merritt’s website,” said Greg Lowis, Director of Corporate Services.

In response, city staff received just over 30 submissions prior to the Council meeting. The submissions were included in the agenda.

The opinions submitted were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea, with most suggesting that the amount of cannabis shops in Merritt is already enough.

Councillor Adam Etchart said that he was surprised how many people had such strong opinions about the subject, though he cited that it may be because of the history of the Adelphi.

“It’s kind of an icon there…maybe the (other cannabis shops buildings) there is not as much of a concern because it’s not as historic. The view of a lot of people seems to be that they don’t want to see that. Maybe it’s also a concern how close it is to the bank. But people just don’t seem to be comfortable, from all of the letters that I’ve seen. So I really feel that we have to listen to the residents.”

Travis Fehr echoed his fellow councillor’s sentiments.

“Based on the public consultation that we asked for, I cannot see any reason to make recommendation for this application.”

The motion to request written submissions from the public about the project was first discussed at the May 25 regular City Council meeting, and passed 6-1, with only Councillor Melvina White opposed.

Currently, there are two cannabis shops in town.

The City of Merritt’s cap of four stores within city limits was eliminated in 2020. The current zoning bylaw requires that no portion of the store be located within 150 metres of any property zoned P1 (Park and Cemetery), P2 (Daycare Centre, Major or Public School), or C6 (City Centre District).

As of now, there is a daycare located at Conayt Friendship Society approximately 65 metres away, though the daycare is in the process of moving well outside this range with a Development Permit having already been issued.

Councillor Tony Luck said that while he certainly supports opening new businesses in town, he struggles with the fact that the business will not be constructed by local entrepreneurs.

“I would really like to support our local entrepreneurs in our community, if they’re opening stores, rather than somebody from Prince George, or Williams Lake, or something like that. So I’m really struggling with this one, because, you know, free enterprise, businesses should all be welcome to try and survive, and if they don’t, they don’t…and that’s the way it goes…so I’m going to continue to listen to the debate, and try to make up my mind.”

Councillor Etchart said that he was also having similar struggles as to Council’s power over whether a business has the right to open in town or not.

If successful, Willie Sellars, Chief of Williams Lake First Nation and the spearhead of the project, also said that there would be interest in developing the bar and restaurant space in the building as well.

The June 22 discussion saw Council vote 4-3 to delay the decision to recommend a permit for the store to a July Council meeting, allowing for more consultation and public input.

Facebook Comments

Comments are closed.