Three recreational cannabis shops selected by city for application approval
The seeds have been planted for a triad of recreational cannabis shops to begin operation in Nelson.
City council recently approved three out of four applications for licences at its regular meeting through a “lottery” vote, the criteria and scoring of which had been detailed by the previous city council in 2018.
The former Kootenay’s Medicine Tree — now the Kootenay’s Cannabis Tree — was given unanimous approval to operate in the Lakeside industrial zone, and was the only application for the area.
Location, however, was a stumbling block for one of the other three applications as Buddy’s Place — formerly known as LeafCross — was left off of the active roster despite achieving a matrix scoring of 93.5 per cent.
The business was edged out by the luck of the lottery draw — necessitated to determine which spots were to be given to two of the three close-scoring applicants — by the Green Room and Potorium, both of which achieved 100 per cent on the matrix.
However, Buddy’s Place could apply again for a licence, but at an alternative location such as Railtown or Nelson Avenue areas where no applications have come. As well, the business could apply for a temporary use permit (good for up to three years) at its current location or for a land use amendment.
Despite federal legalization of recreational cannabis, applicants for a store in the city have to apply through the province and then to the city to obtain a licence to operate, meeting each level of criteria along the way.
The scoring matrix criteria for the city fell under four headings: location and community compatibility and impact; security plan; qualifications and experience of the applicant; building façade and interior improvements.
And the number of licences was capped (five) and a host of requirements had to be met, including limitations on location — allowing one to two in each area of the city.
In all, two recreational cannabis stores are allowed in the downtown, one in the industrial area (lakeside), another in the Railtown area at the end of Baker Street and one in the area outside of downtown, in the Nelson Avenue area.
The land use framework that permitted five cannabis stores by area and required separation distances from sensitive areas — places that children and youth frequent, as well as parks and green spaces.
The cap on cannabis is similar to what pertains to retail liquor stores, with two liquor stores in the downtown, one at the mall and one beside Safeway — with the retail outlets spread across the city.
In order to apply to the city for a licence applicants were required to pay a $3,000 fee.
Medical cannabis business licences were currently held by Green Room Society (306B Victoria Street), Leaf Cross Health Society (358 Baker Street), King Canna Medicinals (619C Front Street), The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree (106-601 Front Street) and Nelson Potorium (471A Baker Street).
Those dispensaries operated contrary to the city’s zoning which required, amongst other requirements, a provincial recreational cannabis licence in order to sell cannabis.
Federal regulations do not allow the sale of medical cannabis or edibles.
The majority of people who replied to the city-wide survey last year supported a 150-metre separation distance between cannabis stores and schools, youth facilities, parks and playgrounds with no separation distances between cannabis stores. A model for the cannabis map was drawn up through the data from the survey.
Size of the stores is also regulated in the zoning bylaw, with limits placed on the maximum gross floor area and the maximum building frontage.
The size restrictions — based on work done in other jurisdictions regarding recreational cannabis bylaws — limit the length of an exterior store front on the floor closest to grade to a maximum of 16m. A cannabis retail store can only have a maximum gross floor area of 500 square metres.