For the first time in 11 applications, Vernon council has turned down a cannabis retail outlet application.
A tie vote of 3-3 (Coun. Dalvir Nahal was absent from Monday’s regular meeting) on an application for a retail store in the 2800 block of 35th Street, in the downtown business improvement area, means the application was defeated and will not be sent to the province for consideration.
Staff was recommending council support the application – as they’ve done with the previous 10 – saying “approval of a cannabis retail store at this location would have minimal impact on the community as long as all federal, provincial and municipal regulations are adhered to.”
City manager of current planning Craig Broderick said, however, that this application had received the most negative input out of any landing at city hall.
“There is one no objection response, eight negative responses, a 43-signature petition against the proposal and three positive responses were received,” said Broderick.
The petition was spearheaded by the Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society, located nearby in the 3400 block of Coldstream Avenue.
“Tenants are concerned that this will bring more of the street people hanging around this area and they feel we already have enough,” said the society in its petition. “It scares them, and this is just too close to home for them. Some of our tenants have been mugged, held at knifepoint, followed and they’re just plain fed up with it. They say we have enough problems here without adding to it.”
Coun. Scott Anderson voted against the application, as did Coun. Kari Gares and Mayor Victor Cumming. Of concern was whether or not the building’s upstairs residential suites are occupied. Broderick did not have the answer.
“When somebody goes to the trouble of collecting 43 signatures against it, a preponderance of the feedback we’ve got is negative,” said Anderson. “We don’t know if the upstairs is occupied or not and we’ve got several letters here saying the smell is concerning.”
Council did unanimously approve an 11th application for a cannabis retail outlet in the 2800 block of 48th Avenue, which is outside the downtown core. Council has capped successful applications for the downtown area at six, to be reviewed after a year.