Council has voted against a retail cannabis store at 411B 1st Avenue, which was formerly April’s Tack Boutique.
Parksville based Local Cannabis Co. proposed a 1125 square-foot store with an open interior design similar to their Parksville location.
In a letter to council they described their store as ‘comfortable and accessible for everyone including seniors’. They said the store will include a dedicated seating area a for any customers who may have difficulty standing for long periods of time so they don’t feel rushed through their decision making.
Council determined that the location’s ‘highest and best use’ was not to serve as a retail cannabis store. The store sits close to the Roberts Street intersection, which is one of Ladysmith’s most photographed locations. It has appeared in multiple film projects such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Resident Alien.
Retail cannabis regulations require that store windows must be blacked out or covered with a screen so passersby cannot see into the store. Councillors Trisha McKay, Rob Johnson, and Mayor Aaron Stone expressed concerns about the loss of window displays in such a prominent retail space.
“I did not stand in the way of having retail cannabis outlets here in town. I was completely in favour of having them,” McKay said. “To use yet another of our limited sites in Ladysmith for this business when it’s addressing a relatively small sector of the population, I strongly disagree with it.”
Duck Paterson and Jeff Virtanen were the only councillors in favour of the motion. Several council members indicated that they could be in favour of a proposal for a location in the Rocky Creek Road area.
Submissions from the public were requested as part of the approval process. Council received 26 letters about the proposal, only two were in favour of the location.
The public expressed concerns about the viability of a third store in Ladysmith and the fourth within the Ladysmith area. Jerry’s Cannabis and 1904 Cannabis currently operate in downtown Ladysmith, and Indigenous Bloom recently opened in Oyster Bay.
“I believe a cap needs to be put in place to prevent any new stores opening up and over saturating the area,” Ladysmith resident, Haley Regualnt wrote. “I can’t see any more than what we have benefiting our community. It would be a shame to see any of the local shops sink just cause someone from out of town thought Ladysmith needs another store.”
Mayor Stone floated the idea of limiting the number of retailers within specific zones. Ladysmith’s retail cannabis bylaws allow for retailers to operate in the general area of downtown and Rocky Creek Road.
Council voted to refer the idea of limiting cannabis retailers to a future Committee of the Whole Meeting.