One week after signalling their support for a cannabis story on Beacon Avenue, Sidney councillors face the question of whether to open up Sidney’s premier commercial street to additional cannabis retail locations.
Councillors meeting as committee-of-the-whole Monday face staff’s recommendation to rescind a previous resolution banning cannabis retail locations on Beacon Avenue. Councillors had passed that resolution by a vote of 4-3 on Oct. 28, 2019, the same day they had denied the initial application from entrepreneurs Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles to open a retail cannabis location in the 2400 block of Beacon Avenue.
A revised application from the business previously known as Happy Buddha Cannabis is now before the Liquor Controland Licensing Branch (LCLB) for final approval after councillors had signaled their support by a margin of 6-1 last month. The business, which is currently looking for a new name, plans to open Nov. 1.
Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s manager for long range planning, said in a report to council that staff “anticipate continued interest” from businesses who want to open cannabis retail stores on Beacon Avenue and in the downtown generally.
“Given the outstanding (council resolutions) related to cannabis retail stores, and the potential impact on future applications if the resolutions are carried through, staff believe that it would be beneficial for (council) to provide additional direction on this issue prior to any additional LCLB referrals being considered,” he said in recommending rescinding the ban.
Within this context, Newcomb’s report notes that staff continues to receive “inquiries” from interested parties “with some of those locations being on Beacon Avenue.”
The report also recommends rescinding a council resolution calling on staff to bring forward language that removes the requirement for active and transparent storefronts for cannabis retail store locations. Provincial regulatory changes have made this point mute.
If staff recommends changes that would open up Beacon Avenue to future cannabis outlets, council also has the option of limiting cannabis stores on Beacon Avenue. This said, any future zoning amendments would not impact the business formerly known as Happy Buddha Cannabis.
“This store now has the right to operate on Beacon Avenue regardless of any future zoning changes the (municipality) may make,” Newcomb said.
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