District of North Vancouver council will likely decide in January whether to approve a cannabis shop in a Norgate neighbourhood, two blocks from where one pot shop has already been given the green light.
Only one person showed up to speak at a public hearing Tuesday (Nov. 30) for a government-run BC Cannabis Store application for a store in the Norgate Centre strip mall at 1461 Marine Dr.
Corrie Kost, who does not live in the neighbourhood, said one of his concerns is that council already approved a marijuana retail store for 1199 Marine Dr., just 500 metres to the east.
Approving the new BC Cannabis Store would mean two stores in the same Lions Village/Marine Drive corridor – contrary to council’s own guidelines on the issue, said Kost.
The provincial government has applied to operate a store in a shopping centre at the corner of Marine Drive and Philip Avenue, in a storefront that was previously a print shop.
Nobody from the neighbourhood showed up to speak at the public hearing Nov. 30.
Over 900 notices went out to nearby residents. The 23 written responses received back were split almost evenly between those in favour of the pot shop and those opposing it.
“As an avid cannabis user I have found it inconvenient to have to travel outside my neighbourhood to purchase cannabis products,” wrote one person in favour of the shop.
“I will make sure to visit it when it is open for business,” wrote another.
Those opposed to the shop cited concerns about increased loitering, increased crime and smoking of cannabis in the immediate vicinity, including driving while impaired by pot.
One neighbour said there should be more gyms opening instead of pot shops that promote bad habits.
In response to questions, district staff said the two pot shops already operating in the district – Muse on Dollarton Highway and North Shore Cannabis at 1520 Barrow St. – haven’t prompted any complaints to municipal hall.
Staff said while the district’s marijuana store guidelines set out a limit of one pot shop per commercial zone, council does have discretion to approve or reject applications as it sees fit.
Ryan McKeown, representing B.C. Cannabis Stores, said the province currently operates 197 government liquor stores and 31 cannabis stores in the province, “with many more slated to open this year and next.”
The store would likely employ between six and 10 people and is proposing an “open and bright” interior with a “West Coast contemporary feel," said McKeown.
Council previously approved another marijuana shop in the same neighbourhood – Budhouse, at 1199 Marine Dr.
That shop is not yet operating but recently received approval of a building permit, said Andrew Norton of the district’s planning department.
That cannabis shop is to be located in an existing single-storey commercial building at Marine Drive and Pemberton Avenue.
Council previously voted 4-2 to reject an application from Hobo Cannabis to open a pot shop at 1629 Marine Dr., also in Norgate.
Staff had recommended rejecting that application because it was the second pot shop application the municipality had received in the area.
The City of North Vancouver has approved five retail cannabis shops, including 1st Cannabis, at 233 West First St., a BC Cannabis Store at 333 Brooksbank Ave., Quantum 1 Cannabis at 820 Marine Dr., Blunt (formerly Lonsdale Cannabis) at 1433 Lonsdale Ave., and a fifth shop at 115 East First St.
At the moment, only 1st Cannabis, Quantum 1 Cannabis and Blunt have opened for business.
Meanwhile, after being late adopters of cannabusiness in the District of West Vancouver, council is set to consider no less than 10 applications vying for a maximum of four marijuana retail shop locations at a Dec. 15 public meeting, where neighbours and other members of the public will have a chance to weigh in.
One application has been received for the Marine Drive/Taylor Way commercial area, at 636 Clyde Ave. One application has been received for Dundarave, at 2433 Bellevue Ave., and two applications have been received for Horseshoe Bay: at 6412 Bay St. and at 6609 Royal Ave. Six applications have been received for Ambleside town centre: at 1437, 1519, and 1443 Clyde Ave., at 1480 and 1528 Marine Dr. and at 1453 Bellevue Ave.
Council is planning to approve a maximum of four retail shops under three-year temporary use permits. Council previously indicated they would approve just one shop in each of the four business areas.