City cannabis application draws opposition from church, business

The City of Dawson Creek is set to approve a cannabis store directly across the road from both a church providing addictions counselling, and a provincial job search location.   It is expected Monday that city council will approve an application from Flora Enterprises for a non-medical cannabis store, despite a handful of agencies and organizations speaking out against the development.

In a city agenda filed last week for Monday’s meeting, the agenda pre-emptively "anticipates" city councillors will approve the license at the city’s next council meeting.

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“The applicant is requesting operating hours from 10 am to 10 pm, seven days a week,” says Teresa Cinco, Senior Licensing Analyst Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch with provincial government.

The application is for a store plotted along 103 Avenue.  Notices were mailed or delivered to property owners within 30 metres of the subject property, placed on the door of the proposed location. At the deadline, three comments were received; all expressing concerns regarding the location of the proposed establishment and attached for council’s information.

The addition of this cannabis retail store in the vicinity of a church, particularly one that provides soup kitchen and food bank services, may negatively affect some members of the community. City staff note a buffer zone was not designated around places of worship in the zoning bylaw. One landlord says a provincial job search office may be impacted.

We feel this may deter people from utilizing these services and detract from serious nature of the business located in the building,” says Debbie Fynn.

“We further feel that finding a new tenant, should our current tenant relocate or no longer provide services out of our building, will be difficult for us due to the close proximity to our building.”

The Dawson Creek Catholic Social Services Society has also sounded off.

“Both from a professional social services delivery perspective, as well as the business decision we will have to make as to whether or not we could continue to operate from your property in the future should such a business be located beside our current location,” says Laurie Patterson with the DCCSS.

“Hearing that the business location next door to us, has made an application for a license to operate as a non-medical cannabis retail outlet, has forced us to reconsider our plans and the need for further consideration as to be so close to such a business would be a direct conflict with work we are doing with many of our clients as well as government requirements for contractors at this time,” she says.

 “Our services in the community have typically been funded through government contracts, which themselves have requirements, one of which has been not to have locations near such businesses as liquor stores.”

Members of the congregation at St. Mark's Anglican Church have also expressed concerns over the application.

“We open our doors twice weekly to the community with our soup kitchen and food bank, supporting those individuals who are struggling either financially, mentally, or with addictions. It is those with addiction issues that concern us the most with this proposed license,” says Rev. Don Thompson.

“The store is located directly across the street from our church, and our clients will be in close proximity to a readily available temptation, which could cause some to give in to that temptation.”

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