The City of White Rock approved its first cannabis dispensary Monday evening, making it one of the few cities south of the Fraser River to do so.
The cities of Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford have not yet issued a single licence for a cannabis retail store. However, for years illegal stores have been operating in a so-called grey area.
A Little Bud Cannabis, one of three cannabis stores that were under White Rock council’s consideration, received the green light at Monday’s regular council meeting to open a shop in the former King Koin Laundromat building. According to the company’s Facebook page, it opened a cannabis retail store in Abbotsford in 2017. The store has since closed.
One of the key issues councillors raised with A Little Bud’s application was that it’s to be located approximately 80 metres from a daycare.
Coun. Anthony Manning said that while he understands the concern, he noted that Sandpiper Liquor Store has been operating across the street from White Rock Elementary for a number of years.
“And there’s two massage parlours a block away from White Rock Elementary. My only concern about this location is that it’s a much older building and if you do receive the temporary-use permit for three years, what are the chances a year-and-a-half down the road that the building is going to be redeveloped?” Manning said.
Coun. Scott Kristjanson said he would rather see the building being used than sit vacant for that same period of time.
Randy Tingskou, one of the owners of A Little Bud, told Peace Arch News Wednesday that they are “extremely excited” to receive approval.
He said the company received a “fit and proper” clearance from the provincial government, “which means at this point, there’s not a whole lot of things that are holding us back.”
Tingskou said they’re targeting a 60-to-90 day renovation, and hope to open soon after.
Moments prior to voting on the three cannabis store applications, council defeated a bylaw that, if approved, would have allowed multiple stores within a one-kilometre distance of each other.
Defeating Bylaw 2323 effectively eliminated the requirement for council to hear an application from Choom BC Retail Holdings (1550 Johnston Rd.), because Choom followed the approved A Little Bud (1484 Johnston Rd.) on council’s agenda.
A government-operated Cannabis Store application was not advanced, as some councillors voiced favour for “local business” options.
Minutes after Bylaw 2323 was defeated in a tie (Coun. David Chesney did not attend Monday’s meeting), Coun. Helen Fathers made a motion to reconsider the vote.
“I’m really upset because I’m not sure council really understood what was going on. So I do feel that the other local store (Choom) that has applied hasn’t been given a fair… hearing. I’m not sure that we really understood that by denying 2323 we weren’t even able to discuss them both tonight,” Fathers said prior to the reconsideration vote.
Kristjanson told council he took “umbrage” with Fathers comment, adding that he did understand all of the implications of Bylaw 2323 being defeated.
“I think that’s the word we used before…” Kristjanson said.
“It wasn’t that really hard… but anyway, I did understand that it meant choosing one today. I don’t really like to have anyone to think that we don’t understand these things. We do. I’m sad that we don’t have Choom but I think we had a mandate to not have more than one…”
“Point of order,” Fathers interrupted.
“I’m still talking,” Kristjanson replied.
“Point of order takes precedence though, point of order,” Fathers said, adding that the motion on the floor relates to reconsidering Bylaw 2323, “it’s either a yes or a no. You’re not speaking to the motion before.”
Council voted to reconsider the bylaw, then voted to approve Bylaw 2323. Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, who originally voted to defeat Bylaw 2323, ultimately voted for its approval during the second round of voting.
However, the application for Choom, which would have been located at 1550 Johnston Rd., was subsequently defeated, with Johanson, Trevelyan and Kristjanson against.
Trevelyan said that although he would have preferred Choom over A Little Bud, he was only in support of one cannabis retail store in the uptown area and A Little Bud had already been approved moments earlier.
The shop makes the second for the Semiahmoo Peninsula, with Indigenous Bloom – which opened in June, 2019 – selling cannabis on Semiahmoo First Nation land.