Walsh says Kamloops council may have erred in pot store distances

A Kamloops councillor says there is an over-concentration of cannabis stores slated for downtown and the Tranquille corridor and he is taking responsibility for zoning changes that have allowed stores to cluster together.

“Upon reflection, I think we’re the architect of what I think is a possible problem,” Denis Walsh told KTW.

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Last spring, about a half-year spring prior to legalization, city staff recommended cannabis stores be located at least 150 metres apart from one another to avoid clustering.

City council of the day, however, decreased that distance to 100 metres, with Walsh suggesting the amendment on the basis that 150 metres was too restrictive.

“We need to have adequate supply of retail cannabis dispensaries or we just drive people to the black market again,” Walsh said during a public hearing on the matter last year.

“The whole point of them legalizing it is to get rid of the black, underground market. That comes down to issues of safety and access.”

The city’s development director at the time told council the impact could result in a 30 per cent bump in the number of recreational cannabis stores in the city.

Staff had also told council they didn’t want to “throw the door right open” until the impact of the stores was better understood.

Today, six months since the federal government legalized recreational cannabis, the city has approved six stores each in the downtown and Tranquille Corridor areas, with more concentration likely.

Dave Jones, the city’s property use inspector, said up to 11 applications could be coming for downtown and up to seven are expected in that North Shore area.

City councillors have said the market will work itself out based on demand. Walsh, however, said businesses are taking on “huge costs” to enter that market. He estimated costs to open the door, from required licensing to store renovations, at about $200,000.

“I think we could have done a better job distributing the licensing,” he said.

Walsh is considering opening a cannabis store downtown and has recused himself from cannabis council decisions at city hall as of late, though he has no update on the status of his application.

© Kamloops This Week


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