City of White Rock council is to decide this evening (March 8) whether to grant a temporary use permit for a cannabis store to operate across the street from the pier.
The rezoning application, if approved, would allow Seed & Stone to sell cannabis out of the old Giraffe Restaurant building (15053 Marine Dr.). The application is tied to a temporary use permit, which would give the store the opportunity to renew after the third year.
Last week, council held a public hearing and heard from a number of residents and people tied to the cannabis industry.
Common concerns raised were the location, the city’s image, impact of parking, people smoking on the beach or in the general area, increased traffic, and congestion.
People in favour of the application said it would be good for restaurants in the area, would increase tourism, increase accessibility of a government-controlled supply, would “revitalize” the waterfront and bring life to a vacant building. They also offered positive comments about the Seed & Stone location in Chilliwack.
“People aren’t going to fight for parking to buy pot to go home and smoke it,” said Christa Kucey, who lives near the proposed store site.
“They will buy it and smoke it around my property, among family- and tourist-orientated areas. It will deter people who currently support the White Rock businesses to support them. It’s a deterrent to families.”
Kucey also raised concerns about parking, traffic, and idling vehicles.
“People will be slamming car doors,” she said.
Naomi Low, who noted that she lives near the Indigenous Bloom cannabis store located on Semiahmoo First Nation land, said she often sees lines of people waiting to buy cannabis from the store.
She said people are willing to travel to buy cannabis not just from White Rock, but from other cities in the Lower Mainland.
“In my opinion, I would say White Rock, especially down on Marine Drive, desperately needs a revamp of sustainable businesses,” Low said.
She drew comparisons between the proposed cannabis store on Marine Drive with an operating liquor store on East Beach.
“I don’t see the difference between having a liquor store and cannabis store,” she added.
City staff recommend approval of the store, but suggest council direct staff to resolve a number of issues prior to adoption of the bylaw.
Issues staff raised include ensuring engineering requirements are resolved; the applicant provide confirmation from the RCMP that the agency has undertaken review of the property under crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principals; store hours be limited to 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; customer access; staff parking; and encroachments.
The store received preliminary approval last month. Council gave first and second readings to the amendment, with Coun. Scott Kristjanson casting the sole opposing vote.