Pot to go public in City of North Van

Six cannabis outlets proposed within city limits

You can own it and consume it but you can’t buy marijuana – not yet and not legally at least  – on the North Shore.

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That may be slowly changing, however, as City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously Monday night to send six proposed pot shops to a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing.

Mayor Linda Buchanan said both pot proponents and their potential neighbours “need the opportunity” to discuss the matter publicly.

Proposed marijuana outlets include 725 West 14th St., 1717 Lonsdale Ave., 221 West First St., 315 Lonsdale Ave., 1200 Lonsdale Ave., and the northeast corner of Park & Tilford at 333 Brooksbank Ave.

The public hearing may be contentious, as two business owners objected to City Cannabis moving across the street at 725 West 14th St., just off Marine Drive. “While I support legalized cannabis, I believe that this location would be better placed ... in a block that catered to more adult facilities,” said Sara Baldwin, owner of BrainSTEM Learning Canada at 730 Marine Dr.

Baldwin’s students range from four to 14 years old, she said. “We all cater to children and believe that there would be undue harm or influence . . . generated by having this cannabis facility there.”

Baldwin received support from Heather Deris, the owner of Ava Music at 734 Marine Dr., who said a petition opposing the shop was signed by hundreds of students and their parents. While “not against the cannabis store,” Deris said she was against the location.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a public school or a private school. The purpose of that bylaw is supposed to be not allowing children to get close to this kind of store,” she said. “The neighbourhood is not going to be safe anymore.”

Among other restrictions, pot shops are barred within a 100-metre radius of public schools. The previous council opted not to include private schools in their restrictions, with former Coun. Craig Keating suggesting it would be bizarre to allow a private school to move into a commercial area and subsequently apply restrictive zoning.

If approved, the pot shop would be operated by City Cannabis owner Krystian Wetulani, who became the first private operator to open a marijuana store in Vancouver.

While she joined her colleagues in sending the pot shops to public hearing, Coun. Holly Back emphasized “major concerns” about some locations. Coun. Don Bell also noted concerns over some of the applications, saying the locations should be in the public interest and “be respectful” of the surrounding area.

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