Pot

Kelowna city councillors on Tuesday set aside the municipality's own rule requiring pot shops to be at least 500 metres apart as they approved a Pandosy Street cannabis store.

A pot shop planned for Pandosy Street in downtown Kelowna has won city council’s approval.

Council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to approve plans for the store, called Grasshopper, at 1636 Pandosy St.

Although the store now has municipal approval through a rezoning process, the owners must still get a licence to operate from the provincial government.

Last year, city council created a rule that pot shops must be at least 500 metres apart from one another.

The Pandosy store will be within 265 metres of a Bernard Avenue cannabis store that has already received city approval but which has yet to open.

But on Tuesday, a majority of councillors were willing to waive the 500-metre separation requirement, at least for the Pandosy Street store.

They said downtown Kelowna is big enough, with a sufficient variety of business types, to support more than one pot shop.

“I believe the rules around not clustering sites together were well thought out, but perhaps didn’t fully consider the density and tourism traffic downtown,” Coun. Gail Given said when council voted last month to send the Grasshopper pot shop proposal to a public hearing.

If the 500-metre separation rule was not relaxed, councillors have suggested, the one pot shop already approved for Bernard Avenue would have had a monopoly on downtown cannabis sales.

Council’s decision to effectively set aside the city’s own pot shop licensing system for the Grasshopper application drew little public interest at the public hearing. Only one person spoke against the Grasshopper proposal, while two people spoke in favour.

Voting on Tuesday to approve the Grasshopper pot shop on Pandosy Street were councillors Luke Stack, Gail Given, Charlie Hodge, Mohini Singh, Maxine DeHart and Loyal Wooldridge.

Opposed were Mayor Colin Basran and councillors Ryan Donn and Brad Sieben.

Although city council has approved several pot shops, only one has also received the necessary provincial licence and is actually open for business.