By ROY WOOD
Just two dissenting voices were heard this afternoon at Osoyoos council’s first public hearing over an application for a rezoning to allow a cannabis retail store.
The objections raised centred mainly on a potential shortage of parking near the outlet and the possibility of children being in the area from the elementary school, six blocks away, or taking cans and bottles to the nearby recycling centre.
The site is the building formerly occupied by Osoyoos Signs. It is at 83rd Street and 72nd Avenue, about a block west of Main Street and just north of the bottle depot.
Applicant Richard Stagg told the hearing that he plans a complete renovation of the property inside and out. “I’ll be overseeing the renovation myself. … We’re going to make it a nice place.”
Stagg, who owns the nearby Okanagan Event Rentals, said he believes there is already adequate parking but he will provide more if necessary.
As for the relatively low profile of the property, Stagg suggested that it would provide some comfort for customers who may not want others in town to know they are purchasing cannabis.
Stagg told the hearing he owns a cannabis retail store just outside Oliver in the regional district. He told ODN he has an application to the town of Oliver for a store inside the town limits as well applications in Princeton and Cawston.
Local realtor Barb Pasternak told the hearing she doesn’t agree that the location is not close to the elementary school. As well, she said, “I have seen kids taking bottles to the depot.”
Pasternak also wondered whether a location on Main Street wouldn’t be better than the subject property, which she described as “hidden.”
Karen Terrillon, who owns property nearby, told the hearing that she is concerned about parking and traffic congestion generally in the area near the site. She also objected to the hours of operation, which could go as late as 11 p.m.
Another local business owner, Richard Cooper of Heatstroke Cycle and Sport, spoke in favour of the proposed rezoning, citing the need to energize businesses in the area.
A report from town planning director Gina MacKay pointed out that there are four parking spaces on the subject property with more available on 72nd Avenue and staff parking nearby.
Her report concluded: “Staff is of the opinion that this location is suitable for the proposed land use and will enable a new business to be established in the Town of Osoyoos.”
Earlier this year, the town opted for “site specific zoning” for cannabis retailing applications. So, anyone who wants to open such a business needs to go through a re-zoning process including a pubic hearing.
The rezoning will come back to council for third reading, possibly in two weeks. Then the applicant must obtain a licence from the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
After that, the rezoning will go to council fourth and final reading and, if it’s successful, head to the licensing department to obtain a business licence.