An Osoyoos man making an application to have a downtown property rezoned to allow for the sale of marijuana said he would do whatever is necessary to satisfy the concerns of neighbours and others opposed to the change.
Richard Stagg told Osoyoos Council Monday afternoon he operates a responsible cannabis operation south of Oliver and expects the Osoyoos location — to be provincially licensed to another individual — would be managed similarly.
“I’ve not had one complaint,” Mr. Stagg said of the Oliver shop, which is located on Hwy. 97 near Road 2.
He was responding to a number of concerns related to parking, lighting, hours of operation and proximity to Osoyoos Elementary School for the proposed 8304 72 Ave location.
“You don’t have 20 or 30 cars pulling in at once; you have two or three cars pulling up,” he explained. “They come in, they buy their products and they leave and go abut their day.
“This is not one of those places where there’s just people sitting there all day.”
Mr. Stagg said his shop south of Oliver gets “an average of 100 to 200 people through a day,” suggesting the Osoyoos community needs a cannabis store.
Speakers express support for cannabis sales
Those speaking at the public hearing appeared to agree with Mr. Stagg’s assessment, generally saying they were not opposed to cannabis being sold in the community.
Osoyoos resident Barb Pasternak wondered why “the business of cannabis needs to be hidden” and not considered a business that is “proud enough to be on Main Street.”
But, she added, perhaps cannabis shops should be located in an industrial-zoned location.
“I think there are a lot better locations in this town for this type of industry,” she told Council. “Can we not align that type of retail outlet in the same area where it’s being grown?”
Richard Cooper, who owns and operates Heatstroke Cycle & Sport a block away on Main Street, suggested parking could be an issue in the summer, but added it’s a condition affecting all downtown merchants.
“Sometimes there’s no parking for my business as well,” he said. “It’s just something we all have to deal with.”
“(Mr. Stagg) has found a reasonable place to put in this business.”
Neighbour Karen Terrellin disagreed.
She and her husband Gris own three lots adjacent to the proposed location and worry about increased traffic down what she termed an “alley.”
“It is quite difficult to get in and around that area,” she said, wondering how up to 100 customers a day would affect an already busy mix of motorists and others on the block accessing a nearby recycling depot, an influx of summer tourists and people looking for off-Main parking.
“(People) will take an alternative route and they’ll be down 74th and any alley they can get to to bypass Main Street,” she said.
One written submission was also provided to the Town, although it was not read at the hearing.
“With respect to the above Zoning Amendment, I wish to advise my opposition to the located site for this outlet,” wrote Judy Dallas. “While this is a ‘commercial’ area in Town, there are a number of residences nearby, and it is on the route for children going to school.
“As well, recognizing that there are certainly individuals who can benefit from the products, having the location basically “in a back alley” does not seem to be a responsible location.
“It should be on a main street that is not “hidden away” for better security considerations.”
Applicant defends ongoing operation in Oliver
After the hearing, Mr. Stagg spoke about his Oliver store, saying it is still operating but with limited product offerings.
“We got rid of anything that’s illegal,” he said. “We cleaned that out of the store immediately. We’re down to one display class. We’re really there just for the medicinal users that actually need the product.”
He added he was requesting the zoning change on behalf of a third person — Katrina Kaminski — who attended the hearing with him.
“I have applied; its my business,” said Ms. Kaminski after the hearing. “Rick is running his business and helping me out.”
Mr. Stagg added the company’s name has changed to OG Canna to deal with a copyright infringement issue originating in Alberta.
“The Canna Cabana name is no longer,” he said, adding the name was approved by the provincial BC Registries but was superseded by a national copyright.
Contrary to what was reported elsewhere, the Osoyoos application is not connected to a chain of Canna Cabana outlets in Alberta.
Four stores in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Whitecourt with the Canna Cabana moniker are owned and operated as a business division of Calgary-based High Tide Inc.
The zoning change request has received two readings but will now be held until the Town receives a referral request from the provincial government, said Gina MacKay, the Town’s Director of Planning and Development.
Provincial legislation requires the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) to provide notice of an application to the local government or Indigenous nation.
“Local governments and Indigenous nations must recommend to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch that a licence be issued before the LCRB may consider whether to issue a cannabis retail licence,” information from the LCRB reads.
“The LCRB will consider, but is not bound by, the recommendation to issue a licence when making its licensing decision.”