Ucluelet’s municipal council defeated three separate applications for cannabis retail sales on Wednesday night, Nov. 20.
Council’s decision to quash all three pot shop applications came directly after a well-attended public hearing and cannabis open house.
“I’m disappointed that there will still be a delay,” said longtime Ucluelet resident Laurie Crozier. “Ucluelet will be behind the times.”
Crozier was one of 23 individuals to address council during the Nov. 20 public hearing.
“[Marijuana] is a choice you get to make. Adults should be able to make that choice and adults in our community should be able to do it legally,” said Crozier.
Recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada for over a year. According to the Government of British Columbia, there are currently more than 200 legally licensed cannabis stores in the province.
Mayor Mayco Noël voted in opposition of approving applications from ‘Ucluelet Cannabis Co.’ located behind the Ucluelet Liquor Store at 1786 Peninsula Road and ‘Green Leaves Cannabis’ located down the hill from the Ucluelet Co-op Pharmacy (formerly Barry’s).
“I feel the current environment of the community, there may be some models that are available to us and the community that have not been presented to us yet. Reasons allowing cannabis retail sales cannot be based on convenience and tourism. This really needs to be a true fit and benefit the entire community. And, I’m not getting that [from these applicants],” said Noël.
“I understand that it’s legal and I have that in mind, but we need to make sure that we have the best option that’s presented to the community,” he said.
Ucluelet’s mayor recused himself from voting on the third application, ‘Platinum Cannabis’ located on 1972 Peninsula Road beside Abbondanza’s Pizza, due to a conflict of interest; his brother-in-law owns the building.
Councillor Marilyn McEwen voted in favour of approving applications from ‘Ucluelet Cannabis Co.’ and ‘Green Leaves Cannabis’. In fact, McEwen was the only councillor on Nov. 20 to raise a hand in favour of bringing cannabis retail to Ucluelet.
“I don’t think as a councillor my job is to tell a business person what business they can or cannot open. However, land use decisions are what this council is here to provide for the community. The two questions I’ve asked myself are, ‘Is this applicant one of the best to take this on and is this the best location’,” said McEwen.
Greg Ralston has lived in Ucluelet for 49 years. He read a speech to council at the Nov. 20 cannabis retail public hearing.
“You guys don’t have to rush into it. Take your time. Let other communities make the mistakes and read how they go about it. I’m not against it. I’ve inhaled marijuana. Ucluelet needs to own the licence. We need to benefit from the profits. Not just hand that golden ticket to an individual from out of town or one person and they get all the cake. Ucluelet should own that licence,” he said.
Ucluelet resident Shane Magnussen also spoke at the public hearing. He told the Westerly he was happy with council’s decision to wait on selecting a cannabis retailer.
“I agree with council’s decision on taking their time to pick the right candidate as opposed to hiring the first person that comes along. We need someone that is going to be there for us and give back to the community. To me, what the community gets out of this is more important. It’s a licence for money. You might see it as a small building, but it’s big business. Those are millions of dollars, they’re not like the corner store,” Magnussen said.
On Aug. 12, 2019, Tofino’s municipal council approved temporary use permits (TUP) for two cannabis retail shops: West Coast Cannabis Store at 1182 Pacific Rim Highway and Daylight Cannabis at 1-671 Industrial Way. The TUP’s are valid for three years, and could be renewed for another three years once they expire.
On the other hand, if Ucluelet’s cannabis retail sales applicants had been successful, they would have had no time limit as their applications were for a rezoning to allow cannabis retail as an additional principal use on the property.
“The rezoning would not expire,” notes Bruce Greig, Ucluelet’s manager of community planning.