Sidney council meeting as the committee of the whole has voted 4-3 to ask staff to bring forward an amendment that would ban cannabis retail locations on Beacon Avenue. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney plans to prohibit pot stores on main shopping street

Council’s committee of the whole narrowly voted to ask for amendment to bylaw approved two months ago

Cannabis retailers will not be able to set up shop on Sidney’s most prominent downtown street, if council ratifies a proposed bylaw amendment now in the hands of staff.

Councillors meeting as the committee of the whole Tuesday asked staff to bring forward a bylaw amendment that would ban all cannabis retail on Beacon Avenue after they had considered and rejected Sidney’s first-ever application for a cannabis retail store. Happy Buddha Cannabis had submitted an application for a shop in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue. The rejection of the application is not yet final and will go before council again Monday during Sidney’s regular council meeting.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith made the motion, which earned the support of Couns. Barbara Fallot, Terri O’Keeffe, and Chad Rintoul. Couns. Sara Duncan, Scott Garnett and Peter Wainwright voted against bringing the amendment forward.

“If we denied an application on Beacon Avenue, we need to amend the zoning bylaw to reflect that,” said McNeil-Smith, who said earlier he believed the business could succeed off Beacon Avenue. “I’m fully in support of having a cannabis retail location in Sidney.”

RELATED: Sidney locals asked for input on recreational marijuana shops

Garnett, however, questioned whether Sidney is sincere about having cannabis retail. Sidney’s excessively prescriptive approach is limiting available space for would-be cannabis retail, he said. “It’s head-scratching, to be honest,” he added. “Where are we going to put them?”

Staff later noted council did not have to take the path that it chose.

“It doesn’t necessarily follow that the zoning bylaw must be amended, just because you denied this one, just to be clear,” said Alison Verhagen, senior manager of current planning.

Ratification of the amendment as proposed by McNeil-Smith following a public hearing would mark a reversal on Sidney’s approach towards cannabis retail just months after council had paved the path for the sector.

READ ALSO: Sidney bans retail recreational cannabis – temporarily

Following extensive public consultations, Sidney amended its zoning bylaw in August to allow cannabis retail as “a permitted conditional use” in its downtown commercial zone including Beacon Avenue, subject to various conditions, and since the application before councillors Tuesday was the first of its kind, it also marked a test of the conditions as well as the larger application process.

Staff assessing the application found that it met every one of the conditions with the “notable exception” of its storefront design. It calls for opaque window coverings as required by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), but in violation of development permit guidelines for the area, which prohibit such coverings, given the prominence of Beacon Avenue as Sidney’s main shopping street.

“Staff note that this is contrary to the intent of [the development guidelines] which seeks to establish a visually interesting storefront display that supports Sidney’s retail-focused downtown,” said Corey Newcomb, senior manager of long-range planning, in his report. He later added that allowing opaque window coverings for one location could set a precedent undermining Sidney’s goal of retaining “active and transparent” storefronts along Beacon Avenue, a point echoed by McNeil-Smith.

Staff recommended cannabis retail locations facing Beacon Avenue be set back at least 15 metres in an attempt to save the application, but staff acknowledged this condition would limit cannabis retail to stretches of Beacon Avenue with less foot traffic and several attempts to find a working compromise either failed to get on the floor or not enough support.

The question of how cannabis retail stores would align with Sidney’s desire for “active and transparent” storefronts along Beacon Avenue has prompted major discussions during the public consultations without a final resolution, a point referenced in the report.

“Had staff been aware of the LCRB’s strict interpretation of the relevant regulation at time of the [cannabis retail bylaw’s] introduction and consideration, the recommendation on whether or not to allow cannabis retail along Beacon Avenue may have been different,” said Newcomb. Given this “new clarity,” Sidney could remove the requirement for an “active and transparent” storefront, a proposal that never gained sufficient support among councillors.

Duncan and Wainwright said this clash between provincial requirements and municipal guidelines was predictable.

O’Keeffe, meanwhile, urged Sidney to create clarity. “It don’t think it is fair to leave them hanging, to think which way is the wind going to blow on any particular day at council,” she said. “Whatever we do here, has to be clear.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 case confirmed at downtown Victoria 7-Eleven

Employee tests positive, company warns of possible exposure risk between Aug. 10 and 14

Mount Newton Centre pivots to keep serving seniors

Peninsula non-profit in need of iPads to stay connected

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Unofficial holidays: here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Aug. 16 to 22

World Photography Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day and Rum Day all coming up this week

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read