By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 20, 2019
Stick to the bylaws and keep the distance.
Sea to Sky School District, Capilano University, and Vancouver Coastal Health want the council to reject a variance application for a proposed cannabis store in the Chieftain Plaza.
The district staff is also recommending council reject the variance application.
Chieftain Cannabis is being proposed at 38243 Cleveland Avenue, next to the Squamish Liquor Store in the Chieftain Plaza.
The store is being proposed by Heartland Group, which owns and operates over 10 liquor stores in Lower Mainland, including the Squamish Liquor store.
The group wants three variances from council:
(a): to reduce the minimum distance between a site containing another Cannabis Retail location from 300 metres to 145 metres.
(b): to reduce the minimum distance between a site containing a school and a Cannabis Retail business from 300 metres to 145 metres
(c), to allow for Cannabis Retail to be permitted on a parcel with frontage on Cleveland Avenue.
The proposed Chieftain Cannabis is approximately 145 metres from another cannabis stores council approved last year in Hunter Place.
From one property line to other, it is also approximately 145 metres from École Squamish Elementary and Howe Sound Secondary and approximately 169 metres from École Les Aiglons located on the Capilano University Property at 1150 Carson Place.
District staff says the bylaws were crafted using best practice that were developed in Seattle, Denver, and Vancouver. Seattle and Denver, for example, both employ a 1000 m buffer, while Vancouver implements a 300-metre buffer.
“The intention of this regulatory approach is to reduce the regulatory hurdles for new cannabis retail locations, while limiting the clustering of cannabis retail locations,” according to staff.
Jacquit Stewart, vice-president at Capilano University, is opposed to the variance.
“We remain concerned that the presence of an additional cannabis retail location may negatively affect children, students, employees, and any visitors to our property,” she said.
Mohammad Azim of SD 48 also voiced his opposition to the variance request. “We feel the current setback limit of 300 metres is appropriate and any amendment lowering this limit would be a significant concern that would not be supported by the board.”
Michel Tardif, the director of école Les Aiglons, has expressed similar concerns, and asked council to be aware of the impact their decision can have on young children. The application is also being opposed by Vancouver Coastal Health.
Meantime, the proponents of the Chieftain Cannabis say the proposed location is ‘tucked’ into the plaza and it “does not take away the feel of the entire plaza.”
They also noted that the store will have frosting on all exterior windows which will prevent anyone from seeing inside of the store from the street or sidewalks.
The store plans to open seven days a week, from 9 am to 11 pm and will hire ten employees for this location.
If precedence is anything to go by, the council will likely grant the variance.
In 2016, council granted a variance to a cannabis facility on Tantalus Road, reducing the distance required from a school from 300 metres to 240 metres.
Last year, council approved cannabis retail in Squamish Station Mall by reducing the required distance from schools from 300 metres to 35 metres.
Council will decide on the Chieftain Cannabis application on May 21, this Tuesday.