Ucluelet council puts pot shops to vote on Sept. 18. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Ucluelet talks pot shops

Two applications are being considered as cannabis retailers.

Ucluelet’s municipal council hosted a public hearing on Sept. 9 to give residents the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding two proposed cannabis retail stores.

The turnout was mild, with only four Ucluetians standing up to express their views on cannabis sales in their town.

Two applicants, ‘Ucluelet Cannabis Co.’ located behind the Ucluelet Liquor Store at 1786 Peninsula Road and ‘Platinum Cannabis’ located on 1972 Peninsula Road between Abbondanza’s Pizza and Vancouver Island Hydroponics, are being considered as cannabis retailers.

Joe Corlazzoli voiced his concerns about selling cannabis in Ucluelet.

“I’ve been in Ucluelet all my life and I don’t think our town is ready for this. There are a lot of young minds here. I’m not telling people what to do, it’s recreational, I don’t care, but I don’t feel that the town is ready,” said Corlazzoli. “I know deep down that you’re not going to be able to police all the restrictions. I was a kid here myself. At 16-years-old I could get booze anytime I wanted. And now, you’re opening another door.”

David Smith took to the podium with further concerns.

“I get that this makes good business sense, but this doesn’t make sense for our town.” Smith said. “Do we need a store that sells mind altering drugs, some of which will enter the hands of our youth no matter what we do?..Adolescence up to 25-years-old are more susceptible to developing psychosis and schizophrenia from cannabis use. It changes the make-up of the neural pathways of the brain of developing youth, possibly irreversibly. Some would argue that alcohol is the same thing and that we have liquor stores in this town already. But, we’re not here to talk about the use of alcohol. It sends the wrong message to our youth that using cannabis is a good thing. Why make it easier to get new drugs?”

Margaret Morrison offered her thoughts on the issue on behalf of the Westcoast Community Resources Society.

“Through the work of the Resources Society, we encounter many people who experience adverse affects of alcohol, whether they have consumed by themselves or, say, with a partner, and there is a decided lack of resources to be able to support people who have these adverse experiences that may be routed in the consumption of various substances and that the same would be true for those that access cannabis, whether for recreation or medicinal purposes,” said Morrison, the non-profit’s executive director.

“Were we more prepared with resources more readily available to support people who might have adverse experiences, this might be a more suitable application to consider at this time,” she went on to say.

Sally Mole, who served on Ucluelet’s municipal council from 2013-2018, spoke in favour of the cannabis retail applicants.

“Education is going to be key. I learned a lot over the last couple years when my friend was dying of cancer, all different kinds of strains that affect you in different ways,” she said. “I like the idea of having another business in town and, I think, the big thing for me [is] I know that, as adults, we can get pot in town and what really worries me is we don’t really know what we are getting. The fentanyl [issue] is serious. If we have a store that is storing a quality product we know is clean, that gives me a little comfort.”

Applicant Andrew Hanson collected 92 signatures from locals confirming they have no objections with a cannabis retail store being located behind the Ucluelet Liquor Store at 1786 Peninsula Road.

The District of Ucluelet also received three letters opposing its Larch Road location due to the possible increase in traffic density to the area.

Hanson’s provincial application has store hours of 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The entrance of the store would face into the courtyard of 1786 Peninsula. Hanson said the proposed site plan includes new landscaping along Larch Street and would be “low-key.”

Applicant Kyle Shane is the founder of Platinum Cannabis, which currently has five cannabis retailer applications in process with the federal government.

“I’m a medical cannabis patient myself,” Shane told Ucluelet council. “I have a serious back problem and my stomach has a bulge of some sort. Sometimes the pain gets really bad and I know this isn’t about medical cannabis right now, but having a resource for even me or anybody to come to for anxiety or depression is a huge opportunity.”

No discussion or voting took place during the Sept. 9 public hearing. Mayor and council will put the cannabis retail applications to vote at a Special Council Meeting on Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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