By ROY WOOD
Another zoning application for a pot shop in downtown Osoyoos got an initial okay from council today, bringing to five the number of such facilities in the approval pipeline.
Four of the proposed cannabis retailing sites are within about four blocks of each other.
The latest application is aimed at an empty storefront at 8131 Main Street, across from the north end of the AG Foods building.
In an interview following this afternoon’s council meeting, planning director Gina MacKay said that she expects the flow of cannabis retail zoning applications to slow down or end.
She said she has received more inquiries lately, but when the potential applicants hear that there five in the queue ahead of them, they back away from the idea. “I really don’t expect (any) more,” MacKay said.
Mayor Sue McKortoff said an interview that she encouraged MacKay to tell potential applicants, “You might want to hold off because there are five ahead of you.”
However, the mayor acknowledged that deciding to move ahead with an application is a business decision and it’s really not council’s place to interfere. “We don’t regulate the number of hairdressers and nail salons,” she said.
As for how many pot shops the town can support, the mayor isn’t sure. “Maybe five is too many. I don’t know.”
Three of the previous applicants have received third-reading approval from council and are now seeking the provincial licensing required as the next step. The fourth went through a public hearing this afternoon and will likely be in the same situation soon.
MacKay told council, “I suspect not all of them will be successful with the province,” and that council might be wise to simply let the current crop go through the process and assess whether accepting more applications makes sense.
Council took no action with regard to limiting future applications.
MacKay said that as far as she knows the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has so far approved just two private retailing licences in the province from a total of 280 applications.
The site of the application given first and second reading approval today is within about a block of the first pot shop application the town dealt with late last year in the old Osoyoos Signs building just north of the recycle depot.
About two blocks north of the latest site is the Owl Pub, another proposed cannabis retail outlet. And about a block west of there, just up Main Street past JoJo’s, is another one.
The fifth proposal is several blocks away at the Gateway Square shopping centre, next to the Dollar Store.