Penticton caps cannabis stores at 14
The City of Penticton overhauled its cannabis retail store policy on Tuesday, opting for a cap-based system instead of the more restrictive buffer-zone system.
City council voted 4-3 to remove the 300-metre buffer rules between stores and move to a system whereby the overall number of stores in the community will be capped at 14.
There will also be a cap on the number of downtown stores set at seven.
The cap system will be removed in its entirety by June 30, 2022.
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The cannabis policy changes come after council gave support to four retail storefront locations—three private stores and one government-run store—at the April 16 regular council meeting.
Staff recommended council reject four additional cannabis stores because of the buffer zone rules, despite the strong applications.
Council, though, after hearing from the proponents of those businesses, made a motion to defer a decision rather than deny them. There are five other applications in various stages of processing, for a total of 13 applications in the city, so far.
Penticton city councillor Julius Bloomfield voted in favour of moving to the more liberal cap-based system, noting the former framework was onerous on city staff.
“It was extremely difficult to manage. It was extremely costly, took a lot of staff time doing the evaluation for each applicant proved to be argumentative, subjective, and this whole process, it may be well planned, but it didn’t work,” he said.
Councillor Campbell Watt said there should be no restrictions as the market will dictate how many pot shops are viable to operate in Penticton.
“I have always believed that the market should dictate which of these businesses survive and which of them don’t. Having said that, I think we are taking baby steps to finally accomplish that,” he said.
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“The cap system, I believe, is a good compromise where by it is definitive, it is not subjective.”
Councillor Katie Robinson said the public consultation period revealed that the public wants the number of cannabis stores to be limited in the city.
‘I think 10-12 would be more than sufficient for a city this size and the public consultation did ask us to start slowly and limit them,” she said.
She tried to lower the cap to 10-12 stores, but failed to gain support from a second councilor to bring the amendment forward.
Staff compiled public feedback, which included 42 per cent of respondents who said the number of cannabis stores allowed to operate in Penticton should be the same as liquor stores.
There are 10 liquor stores operating in the city. Thirty per cent said they don’t believe it should be capped at all and 28 per cent say there should be fewer cannabis stores than liquor stores.
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