Staff report recommends pot sales a go for PoMo

A staff report being presented to Port Moody council at its meeting tonight recommends the city allow retail cannabis stores.

The report, authored by Port Moody’s policy planner, Jess Daniels, also says there should be a 200-metre buffer between such stores and sensitive areas like schools, playgrounds, daycares and community centres, as well as a 500-m distance between the outlets themselves.

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Legal weed stores would also need to fulfill additional licensing requirements, like using design elements to help prevent crime, providing proof of a monitored security fire alarm systems and video surveillance, and having visually appealing storefronts.

Daniels said 54% of respondents to a recent survey conducted by the city supported retail cannabis stores in Port Moody. She said 887 surveys were completed, the second highest response to any public consultation survey the city has ever conducted.

Several respondents advocated for cannabis retail stores because “cannabis is legal” and should be treated like alcohol or cigarettes. Some suggested such stores would diminish the black market for the product in PoMo as well as provide new opportunities for small businesses as well as tax revenue for the city.

“I am not sure what everyone is afraid of,” said one respondent.

Of the 40% of respondents who said cannabis stores should not be allowed in Port Moody, several worried about the effect such shops would have on the city’s “community feel” and family-friendly nature.

“Let’s not promote all the big-city trends and growth,” one respondent stated.

Others expressed worries about bringing “riff raff” to the city, the effects of second-hand smoke and the potential harm it could bring to young people.

Daniels said while 76% of the survey’s respondents supported a buffer between retail cannabis store and schools, playgrounds, daycares as well as community centres, the preferred distance ranged from 75 to 300 m, with 38% supporting the latter.

Support for a buffer between cannabis stores was more divided. Daniels said of the 675 responses to that question, 49% supported a buffer, of which more than half wanted it to be 500 m. And 58% of respondents said they wanted a cap to the number of cannabis stores in the city, with almost a third of them suggesting it should be no more than one.

Daniels said in her report that implementing a 500-m buffer between stores would have the same effect as a cap, permitting only one shop to operate in each of three areas of the city: the Clarke/Elgin street area; the St. Johns/Williams street area; and the 910- to 916-block of Clarke Road. She said such a buffer could be “easily implemented.”

The report said 10 potential cannabis retailers attended a stakeholder meeting in city hall’s Brovold Room last Nov. 22.

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