Pot shops vow to help Port Moody thrive

Port Moody council moves four cannabis retail applications to public hearing, on Nov. 26.

A promise to donate 4% of gross profits to Share and the food bank sealed the deal for a private retailer wanting to set up a pot shop in Port Moody.

Last night (Tuesday), at a special meeting, city council went against a staff report to deny Purp City’s application for a cannabis retail store on St. Johns Street. Instead, council moved its bid forward to public hearing along with three other proposals.

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In its report, city staff said burb — which currently has two stores in Port Coquitlam, the first in the Tri-Cities — Westcanna and Kiara met the criteria to open cannabis outlets on sites currently zoned as commercial retail and that were at least 75 metres from what the municipality deems “sensitive uses”: playgrounds, schools and community centres.

But the report recommended Purp City’s proposal — among Port Moody’s first batch of site-specific applications for weed shops — be turned down because its proposed location would be 61 m from the Port Moody Arts Centre property line.

Glen Weismiller of Purp, which is owned by Stellava Ventures Inc., argued liquor and fireworks stores, a hookah lounge and pub are closer to the arts hub than his planned business. And he pointed out the benefits the store would provide, including working with the arts centre, having local ownership and the making a 4% profit contribution to Share Family and Community Services.

Indeed, all four retail representatives spoke about how they would help the city in their five-minute presentations before council Nov. 5:

• Steve Dowsley, co-founder of burb, said the company will offer a living wage to full-time employees and a scholarship for a graduating Port Moody student; support the Port Moody Foundation and local events; and provide a recycling program through its Suter Brook shop at 1-101 Morrissey Rd. (formerly home to Dandelion Kids);

• Alex Maxinani, co-founder of Westcanna, said it would pursue B. Corp certification (a stakeholder-conscious standard) as well as support the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation through its shop at 3034 St. Johns St.;

• and Andrew Gordon, vice-president of Kiaro, which also has an application for a store in downtown Port Coquitlam, said it would make a $10,000 donation to the arts centre and promote public awareness about responsible cannabis use through its shop at 2816 St. Johns St.

Coun. Meghan Lahti, who moved for the four bids to proceed to the Nov. 26 public hearing, said she expects the cannabis retailers to work together — if their applications are approved — much like the microbreweries are doing along PoMo's Brewers Row.

“It’s important for us as a community to embrace that kind of camaraderie,” she said.

Coun. Amy Lubik said she was “impressed” and “surprised” by the business models and the community contributions that were pitched while Coun. Zoe Royer said council expects the “trailblazer” retailers to make Port Moody proud.

“This has really been a huge learning curve for me and really trying to look at the needs of a changing community,” she said.

Royer then addressed the applicants: “If we are going to have these kinds of businesses here, we want you to be successful and work together and educate and be an incredible, stellar community partner.” 

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