Renderings of a proposed B.C. Cannabis Store at Country Club Centre. (Urban Design Group Architects Ltd. image)

Nanaimo council approves re-zoning for B.C. Cannabis Stores

One store coming to Country Club Centre, another to Mary Ellen Drive

Nanaimo could soon be home to two B.C. Cannabis Stores.

City councillors, during a public hearing on June 13, unanimously approved re-zoning applications for two proposed B.C. Cannabis Stores located at 6683 Mary Ellen Dr. and Country Club Centre, 3200 Island Hwy N.

The B.C. Cannabis Store at Country Club would be located inside a brand-new commercial building on the property, according to the city’s website.

A development permit application has been submitted to the city for the proposed 753-square-metre commercial building, which would not only be the location for the proposed provincial cannabis store but three other commercial businesses including a Triple O’s drive-thru restaurant.

Meanwhile, the proposed B.C. Cannabis Store on Mary Ellen Drive would be located at Woodgrove Crossing, the plaza where Michaels is currently located. The retail store would occupy an existing 265-square-metre commercial space directly beside M&M Meat Shops.

Both proposed cannabis stores are more than 200 metres away from schools and daycare facilities, according to the city, which supported both rezoning applications.

According to the city’s website, B.C. Cannabis Stores will have bud display tables and in-store tablets that allow for online browsing. Cannabis would be kept behind the checkout in an “employee-only area of the store” while cannabis accessories would be secured “safely.”

Provincially owned cannabis stores will also have an open-concept design with “clean, bright white walls, natural wood textures and timeless accents” in order to provide a positive experience for customers, the city’s website notes.

Stores would employ between 14-17 people, with each location having a store manager, assistant manager and cannabis consultants, who would be required to have a Serving it Right equivalent certificate prior to employment. All employees would be unionized.

No specific details were given for the Island Highway location, but in a letter to the city, B.C. Cannabis Store indicates that the Mary Ellen Drive location would have eight full-time employees, two to four part-time employees and roughly four to six auxiliary staff and that the starting wage would be $21 per hour.

RELATED: Proposed cannabis retail stores moving through City of Nanaimo processes

Speaking to the News Bulletin, Lainya Rowett, manager of current planning with the city, said there are a few things that need to happen before the application can return to council for final adoption, explaining that the Ministry of Transportation must sign on any amendments bylaws that are within 800 metres of a controlled highway access.

“It is usually pretty quick. We’re talking a matter of weeks,” she said.

Private cannabis store applications, following third reading, must receive approval from the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch before they can return to council for final adoption. But Rowett said the process is a bit different for provincial applications.

“They don’t have exactly the same process to go through from their own internal side of things as the private stores do,” she said. “Normally, external applicants, non-provincial applicants, would be going through more scrutiny like a financial assessment by the province in order to determine if they are indeed fit and proper.”

Rowett said she isn’t entirely sure whether the province requires its own applications to be reviewed by the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. The LCRB is responsible for the regulation of liquor industries and private retail non-medical cannabis industries within the province.

“They have their own model that they follow,” she said. “I don’t know what additional screening, if anything, they put themselves through before confirming to us that they are ready to proceed.”

B.C. Cannabis Stores are required to follow the same city processes that private cannabis stores are required to follow according to Rowett.

“We would need to make sure that they have met all the conditions of re-zoning. Then we can put it forward for final adoption,” she said.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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