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Cannabis dispensaries OK'd for Coquitlam — three years after feds legalize recreational use

“We’ve benefited from taking the wait-and-see approach," Coun. Craig Hodge says as Coquitlam city council adopts a cannabis regulatory framework.
Coquitlam city council voted on Dec. 13 to allow production, processing and retail for cannabis.

Pot shops are coming to Coquitlam.

After a public hearing on Monday (Dec. 13), council unanimously adopted the cannabis regulatory framework to permit production, processing and retail in the city.

The move means six dispensaries — two for City Centre and one each in the neighbourhoods of Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville — will be considered in the first intake in the new year.

Under the new rules, production and process facilities will have to be 200 m away from “sensitive” places — that is, residential areas, schools, parks and childcare centres — while cannabis stores need to have a 150-metre buffer. 

As well, shops are to have transparent windows for their storefront.

According to the evaluation criteria, the city is also looking for dispensaries

  • to be 100 m from a parks and recreation site
  • to be at least 100 m away from another cannabis retail store
  • to have clear sight lines
  • to be in character with the neighbourhood

Candidates’ business histories and community contributions will also be taken into consideration when the first intake is open for 10 days, starting Jan. 4, 2022. 

The applications will be OK’d by council on a case-by-case basis.

burb co-owner Steve Dowsley, a private cannabis retailer with three stores in the Tri-Cities and plans to expand into Coquitlam, was the only speaker at the Dec. 13 public hearing.

“This is probably the most well thought-out policy that I’ve seen,” he said, while pressing council to have “previous company experience” as a higher rank in evaluations.

But Coun. Brent Asmundson said that request edges out inexperienced retailers, and he’s leery to give an advantage to operators already in the industry. 

“It’s not our role to restrict competition,” he said.

Coun. Dennis Marsden said cannabis was legalized by the federal government in October 2018 and most Metro Vancouver municipalities now have dispensaries. “It’s long past time that we move forward with this,” he said.

Still, Coun. Steve Kim said waiting to see how other cities rolled out their regulations has helped Coquitlam craft its policies.

He also thanked stakeholders and residents for “providing insightful dialogue” during public consultations this year.

“My main concerns were about community safety and community acceptance,” Coun. Craig Hodge said, adding the fears from three years ago have yet to pan out. 

“We’ve benefited from taking the wait-and-see approach.”