Pot shops win council's consent

City council cleared the way Monday night for the establishment of three more recreational cannabis stores in Prince George.

Members voted unanimously in favour of granting three-year temporary-use permits for privately-run stores in Tabor Plaza and in a long-vacant retail outlet at 1533 3rd Ave. downtown and advanced to final reading an application to rezone a spot at Spruceland Mall for a government-run outlet.

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During a series of hearings on the items, the proposal for Tabor Plaza drew the most opposition as several nearby homeowners questioned the appropriateness of allowing one to be established in a residential area.

However, council members voted unanimously in favour - only Coun. Garth Frizzell was absent from the meeting - noting that Tabor Plaza is currently home to a pub and a liquor store that have cause little if any trouble and that a temporary-use permit will allow council to close down the store if there are any problems over its life.

Once the three years is up, there remains an option to renew it for a further three years. Once that term is up, the property must be rezoned for the use for the business to continue operating.

The store's backers also said they met with representatives from nearby Zion Lutheran Church and Christian school and will be taking steps to address the concerns they have raised.

Measures include mounting outside security cameras and doubling the number of patrols by local security services. While nearby, the store will not be within the line of sight of the church, they also said, noting the store's entrance will be north facing while that for the church and school is south facing.

The hearing for 1533 3rd Ave. was about half as long as that for Tabor Plaza but council members expressed disappointment that the proponent, Ian Laing of Victoria, did not attend. Instead, he was represented by Matt Vigue, a local real estate agent.

However, the misstep was not enough to overturn the proposal as council members agreed the spot is appropriate for the use. Laing is working to open a chain of stores across B.C. under the brand Earth to Sky.

On the proposal to open a B.C. Cannabis Store at Spruceland, two letters in opposition were submitted to council but the hearing on the matter drew no speakers.

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