A proposed recreational cannabis dispensary in Vernon, B.C. was rejected by city council Monday due to it being too close to a seniors’ complex – the first time the city has said no to a dispensary after approving 10 others in the past.
The proposal was for 2813A 35th Street, which is located next to a dog groomer, near a seniors’ living complex and close to Vernon’s main street.
A community petition from the Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society sprang up against the proposal and received 43 signatures.
“It is too close to seniors,” Alice Heward, who organized the petition, told Global News. “I’m very against the location and a lot of the people here are. It is just too close to us.”
Heward mentioned that a cannabis dispensary might worsen an already present feeling of discomfort in the area at night due to “the smell of the pot [and] the high people coming around.”
Along with the petition, the society sent a letter to council that mentioned a concern about the proposed location’s proximity to the NONA (North Okanagan Neurological Association Child Development Centre), which they said is “full of kids.”
“It’s bad enough to have the stores downtown, but why bring a store so close to apartment buildings?” The letter asked. “Keep the stores away from homes.”
Ultimately, despite support for the proposal from city planning manager Craig Broderick, mayor Victor Cumming decided against it, with city council following suit.
“There are too many people against it,” Councillor Scott Anderson, who voted against the proposal, told Castanet. “The preponderance of feedback we’ve gotten is negative.”
He also showed concerns over the number of potential dispensaries within the downtown Business Improvement Area, which council had previously voted to limit to six in the area.
City staff said the application received the most correspondence out of all the applications received, including eight negative responses in addition to the petition. One letter of no objection and three positive responses were also sent.
In support of the dispensary, the city did receive letters saying that ownership of the dispensary is local, has no association with the grey market, and the owners were willing to work with the community to make sure disruption is minimal.
The owner of the dog grooming business, K9 Care and Grooming, next to the proposed location also told Global News he was not worried about a dispensary opening next door.
“Everybody’s got a right to make a dollar and hopefully it will be just fine,” Stewart Gladstone said before the rejection was official.
The other dispensary on the docket, Black Crow Herbal Solutions, was approved unanimously by council the same day.