A sixth and possibly final pot shop is coming to the City of North Vancouver.
Council voted 6-1 Jan. 31 to approve a rezoning for Affinity Cannabis to open a store at 1825 Lonsdale Ave.
Prior to the vote, council held a public hearing in which seven residents called in to express their support for having a cannabis store easily accessible in the neighbourhood. Written submissions were more evenly split, with detractors raising concerns about children being influenced, Affinity’s Instagram content and a perceived overabundance of cannabis stores already in North Vancouver. The proposal was also the subject of a form letter campaign urging council to reject the rezoning because Affinity’s owners do not live in the neighbourhood.
Most of those grievances, though, are outside the scope of council, said Coun. Jessica McIlroy.
“This really is just a land use decision,” she said. “The company has met all of the policy requirements that are in place by the city and the other levels of government. … I am happy to support the application as proposed.”
Although he said he has used CBD oil to treat back pain, Coun. Don Bell said he was also troubled by the complaints levelled against Affinity and suggested the city hold off on any further cannabis stores for the time being.
“I can tell you that I would feel more comfortable just putting a pause on our applications and seeing how the five that we've approved so far worked out and whether there is a need for one or more in the future,” he said.
Bell’s was the only vote in opposition to the cannabis store.
For others on council, community angst about cannabis stores has proven to be unwarranted. According to city staff, only “minimal” complaints had come in about the stores already up and running (although one was found to be flouting COVID-19 public health orders).
“We've seen that they haven't typically caused a huge impact to the surrounding area and they’ve really integrated well, so I think this is going to be a good addition and I do support it,” said Coun. Tony Valente.
When council first set some guidelines for cannabis applications in 2018, they put in a limit of six stores for the city – two each in Lower Lonsdale and Central Lonsdale, and one each in the eastern and western portions of the city.
1st Cannabis opened on the 200-block of West First Street in late 2019. At the same time, council approved a BC Cannabis Store for Park & Tilford Shops & Gardens but a new bricks-and-mortar building would still need to be constructed before it could open. It is nearly finished now. In 2020, council approved Quantum 1 Cannabis on the 800-block of Marine Drive and Blunt Cannabis Store at 14th and Lonsdale, both of which are open. And in February 2021, council approved an Eggs Canna location for the 100-block of East First.
When the number of would-be proprietors seeking to go through the application process has exceeded the number of permissible stores, the city has held draws to see which proponents could proceed.
With the final of the allotted six stores heading for approval, Mayor Linda Buchanan said the city can take some time to evaluate the 2018 policy and revisit it if needed.