Port Moody gives green light to two cannabis shops, yellow light to two more

A cannabis shop is coming to Suter Brook village and one more will be allowed to open on St. Johns Street — for now.

Applications for a Purp City shop at 2506 St. Johns St. and another by Westcanna at 3034 St. Johns will have to wait until the city considers its next round of proposed shops, likely early next year.

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Tuesday, Port Moody council passed third reading of amendments to a land use contract and zoning bylaws that will allow burb Cannabis to open a retail shop at 1-101 Morrissey St., in Suter Brook, along with another run by Kiaro at 2816 St. Johns St.

Council put on hold Westcanna’s application for a shop at 3034 St. Johns after the owners of a neighbouring building told council they have a lease with an applicant for a shop in their location that has yet to be heard by the city.

According to a staff report, Purp City’s proposed shop is too close to the city’s arts centre, which is located 61 metres away — within the prescribed 75-metre buffer zone around sensitive uses like community centres and playgrounds.

Coun. Amy Lubik said while she appreciated the concerns raised by several Suter Brook residents during last week’s public hearing, including a petition with 49 names, the neighbourhood already has a liquor store that hasn’t been an issue.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said the presence of a cannabis shop in a residential neighbourhood is a sign of the times.

“We’ve had to adjust ourselves to these cultural realities and this is just one of them,” he said, adding he was also impressed by burb’s commitment to community involvement, which includes locating its corporate headquarters in Suter Brook and making financial contributions to a scholarship at Port Moody secondary school and to the Port Moody Foundation.

But Coun. Steve Milani said burb’s location in the ground floor of a residential building with apartments immediately above, as well as its proximity to an outdoor square where kids regularly play, isn’t appropriate. He said while he was impressed with the company’s application and found staff at its location in Port Coquitlam “very professional, it was located in a strip mall. It’s a completely different surrounding.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth agreed, saying, “What I’ve heard loud and clear is residents have overwhelmingly indicated they’re not comfortable having this type of business located in their area. This is not the right place for it.”

But Mayor Rob Vagramov said most of the issues that sparked that discomfort, including worries about smell and access to children, “have been averted.” He added other concerns about visitors to the store consuming their purchases right outside can be dealt with by enforcing existing bylaws.

Port Moody city manager Tim Savoie said staff could also work with burb towards adjusting its opening hours to be more in line with other businesses in Suter Brook.

Initially, Port Moody will allow up to five cannabis shops to open in the city. Another wave of seven applications is expected to get provincial approvals by the end of the year before they can be brought to council.

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