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Two cannabis shops vie for last downtown Vernon spots

Applications for stores within 240m of each other and a third retailer up for consideration
Vernon Council voted in favour of implementing a 500-metre buffer between all new cannabis stores in the city at its meeting Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Black Press files)

Two cannabis retail stores are vying for a spot downtown Vernon, but the spots are only 240 metres apart.

The first applicant is looking to set up shop at 3315 30th Avenue next door to Bamboo Beach Fusion Grille and in the same block as Hive Cannabis. The other, a three-minute walk down Main Street, is at 3116 30th Avenue in the former Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy store.

Six letters of opposition were received with the first application citing the number of nearby cannabis retail stores is already high adding another would be excessive.

Nearby shop Hive Cannabis owner Neil Rockerbie said there are already enough cannabis stores serving the Vernon community.

“Although competition is healthy, at this scale the viability of the existing retail outlets is already stretched,” Rockerbie wrote to council. “Secondly, this retail outlet is located a stone’s throw of Hive Cannabis and I would question the need for another cannabis outlet in such close proximity.”

One letter was in opposition of the second application.

In October, council voted in favour of a bylaw amendment that would prevent cannabis stores from being within a 500-metre radius of any other cannabis retailer.

Coun. Kari Gares initially brought the motion forward after noting a high number of retail store applications since the legalization of cannabis and an over-saturation of retail stores in the downtown core, which is currently home to six.

The 500-metre buffer is similar to regulations on liquor stores, which must be 1,000-metres apart. There are also restrictions that prevent cannabis stores from being near schools, parks and playgrounds.

The bylaw, however, does not affect existing stores or those caught in the pipeline while the city’s moratorium was in effect.

These two applications are the seventh and eighth applications that have been held up until the six other files in the Business Improvement Area were forwarded to the Province. This is why these two could be permitted.

And if approved, these will be the last cannabis shops that could open within the primary BIA, consistent with city council’s Nov. 25, 2019, resolution that capped cannabis retailers to six in the primary and secondary BIA.

If council does not support the two applications at the Jan. 25 meeting, neither will receive further consideration from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

READ MORE: New cannabis shops in Vernon will need to stay 500m apart

READ MORE: Mysterious group serves notice to Okanagan mayors, demanding end to ‘unlawful’ COVID rules


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