Summerland’s municipal council has approved a non-medical retail cannabis store application for the downtown core, even though some in the community believe this location is inappropriate.
The location, on Victoria Road North, is close to Summerland’s main retail section and near to two schools and Memorial Park.
It is the location, not the non-medical cannabis business, that attracted attention and concern.
The Okanagan Skaha School District raised concerns because 750 students at Summerland Middle School and Summerland Secondary School are within a three-minute walk of this store.
Others have said Summerland’s 50-metre buffer zone around parks and schools is not sufficient and should be extended.
And some have suggested allowing cannabis retail shops in the downtown would alter the character of the area.
A petition which was recently submitted to council called for a ban on cannabis shops downtown, a cap on the number of licenses in Summerland and a distance of at least 750 metres between cannabis retail stores. This petition drew 40 signatures.
While there is a time to discuss Summerland’s regulations governing cannabis retail stores, the time for this discussion is not when an application before council has met all the existing regulations.
Rather, the discussion was needed last year, before legalization and while council was considering its regulations.
If Summerland’s council had chosen to deny this latest application, it would have set a dangerous precedent for the community.
Such a decision would have sent the message that the regulations we have are meaningless.
Regulations surrounding cannabis shops may come up for review in the future, and at that point, concerns about the downtown location should be addressed.
However, Summerland has adopted its existing regulations and the municipality is bound by these regulations until such a time as these regulations are changed.
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