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Pot shop coming to Marine Drive, more rentals needed in District of North Vancouver

A government pot shop is coming to North Vancouver after the district voted in favour Monday night
220 Mountain Highway
Renderings for 220 Mountain Highway show what could be possible after a rezoning application was passed by the District of North Vancouver Monday night.

Editor's note: Since publishing, this article has been adjusted to clarify that 1461 Marine Dr. is not currently operating as a liquor store, but is currently zoned to allow liquor retail.

In swift proceedings Monday night (Jan. 10), the District of North Vancouver council passed its latest pot shop, welcoming a BC Cannabis Store to the Norgate Centre strip mall on Marine Drive. 

What is currently zoned as a liquor store, at 1461 Marine Dr., the cannabis store was passed with all in favour, except Coun. Betty Forbes against, citing concerns about government retailers competing with private industries. 

Mayor Mike Little was a notable absence at the meeting, passing along his regrets that he could not attend – he and his family have recently tested positive for COVID-19, “So he is resting comfortably at home,” Acting Mayor Lisa Muri said.

"Thanks for the well-wishes. I'd particularly like to thank the staff down at Lloyd Avenue testing site for their continued helpfulness during these challenging times," Little wrote in a statement Monday.

Muri said community concerns regarding cannabis shops in the district have not materialized; however, the districts plans and policies regarding cannabis applications have also not been followed. 

“My challenge is with the fact that we create plans and we create policies, and then we don't follow them. And in this case, we didn't follow it at all. We allowed every application that came forward to be supported, without exception,” Muri said. In response, staff advised Muri that one cannabis store application in the district has been rejected, while two others have been withdrawn. 

Meanwhile, rezoning applications had a mixed result for applicants on Monday night. 

A six-storey rental building on the corner of Mountain Highway and Oxford Street, which could include 134 market rental and six non-market rental apartments, was passed unanimously without discussion, after being part of a closed public hearing. The development permit will come to council at a later date.

However, a proposed project on West 16th Street, that would have included 31 market strata units and 31 rentals units, has met its fate, as the motion was defeated on Monday due to concerns around housing affordability and market strata units. 

Tabled by Couns. Jordan Back and Matthew Bond, the project in their eyes was well suited to the area, very close to transit services and included much needed rental units. 

Coun. Megan Curren also believed the project should have received a second and third reading, as it had the highest compliance with the official community plan action plan. 

“This is one of those that achieved the highest rating in terms of achieving climate targets, housing targets,” she said. 

However, the motion was defeated in a tied vote as Muri, Forbes and Coun. Hanson voted against due to the lack of affordable rental units, and questioned why more weren’t included in the plan. 

“The idea of supply and demand is, if you build more, if you increase supply, the price will come down. And I want any of you to tell me when that has happened anywhere in the region,” Muri said. “I challenge you. Show me where the assessments have dropped in Metro Vancouver since 1986. It hasn't happened. They continue to go up and up and up.”