Choom Cannabis Co. has applied to open a weed store in the Southeast False Creek neighbourhood of Vancouver.
But there’s one problem.
Choom’s proposed location at 191 West 2nd Avenue is within 300 metres of the Creekside Community Recreation Centre.
City of Vancouver rules provide that pot shops should be at least 300 metres from community centres and other similar places.
These include neighbourhood houses, schools, and youth facilities that serve vulnerable young people, as well as other weed establishments.
Well, that ain’t right, according to Chris Bogart, president and CEO of the Vancouver-headquartered pot retailer.
In a letter to the city, the Choom honcho noted that the federal Cannabis Act, which legalized recreational weed, was intended to “prevent young persons from accessing cannabis and eliminating the black market”.
“However, the city bylaws need to balance commercial uses, sound planning and market factors,” Bogart wrote. “The current city bylaws are very restrictive with 300m setbacks between other cannabis stores, community centres, neighbourhood houses and schools.”
According to Bogart, this is “especially evident in very dense areas that could support more stores but are restricted with the setbacks”.
“These restrictions need to be balanced with the objectives of the Federal Cannabis Act and it is our position that in this scenario based, good planning rational and limited impact on the community, children and vulnerable populations, a small variance is permittable,” Bogart argued.
About that variance to the rule, Bogart explained that Choom’s proposed location is 240 metres of the Creekside Community Recreation Centre.
That’s a straight line, according to Bogart, measured “as the crow files”.
It’s actually farther.
“The actual traveling distance from door to door is over 500m,” Bogart noted in his letter. “On the route of travel is Craft Beer Market, an establishment selling food and alcohol which welcomes minors until 9pm and also Legacy Liquor store which also permits minors if accompanied by a parent or guardian.”
Driving home the point, Bogart continued: “Cannabis stores do not allow entry to anyone below the age of 19.”
Bogart turned his attention next to the city’s master plan for Southeast False Creek, which is envisioned to become a “complete neighbourhood”.
“Currently there are no legal cannabis stores within the outlined plan,” Bogart wrote. “A key component of having a complete neighbourhood or community is giving residents the opportunity to purchase items needed for daily life without use of an automobile.”
Those items could include pot for a number of residents.
“There is already a liquor store in the community, and since cannabis is predicted to out pace liquor sales, it is a product that many residents will purchase and will fit with the community plan to have a store within walking distance,” Bogart stated.
The city will receive comments from the public on the Choom application until Tuesday (June 18).