A change in location has prompted West Kelowna council to say no to a government cannabis store

No to government pot shop

Uncertainty around the cannabis industry due to COVID-19 prompted the province to downsize a planned government retail cannabis store and regional training office in West Kelowna.

That move was enough for city council to reverse course and turn down the request which would have added a sixth retail store to the community.

The province had received approval from council to rezone the the current Dollar Store site within the Westbank Town Centre Mall to allow for cannabis retail.

However, the government scrapped the training office and decided to downsize the store to a smaller unit within the same mall, necessitating a second rezoning application.

“I saw the regional training component as good value,” said Coun. Jayson Zilkie, who supported the original application, but said no Tuesday because it was being eliminated.

Coun. Stephen Johnston agreed, saying the province can wait until council has a chance to review its overall retail policy.

Coun. Carol Zanon also voiced non-support, saying the elimination of the training centre and its 20 to 25 jobs makes the government store just another retail business.

And, because the province didn’t follow the city’s initial intake process, approving them as is would be pre-empting other businesses.

Council voted down the application 5-2.

While the application for the smaller store was defeated, the original approval for the Dollar Store location remains on the books, meaning the province could come back in the future if it wishes to revisit that proposal.

This is the second government cannabis store to be turned down in the Central Okanagan. Earlier this year, Kelowna council said no to a government store in Rutland.

Council meantime is expected to take a deep dive into its retail cannabis policy, which presently allows for five stores, two downtown and three in the Boucherie area.

That discussion was to have taken place this fall, but was put off due to the pandemic.

Some on council suggested opening the market up to any and all comers.

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