Fate to be decided

Published on December 5, 2018 by David Wylie

The fate of a cannabis store in Lake Country is about to be decided.

When local politicians meet meet Tuesday (Dec. 18), they’ll revisit their earlier motion to defeat a variance permit that would allow a Compass Cannabis Clinic in the Kelowna suburb to operate as a retail Starbuds.

Grassroots support for the cannabis store in Lake Country is growing, however.

Residents in the community have been sending letters to Lake Country’s mayor and council urging them to approve a cannabis retail store in Turtle Bay Crossing.

In a surprise move, the municipal council voted 4-3 to quash the potential Starbuds location.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker told the oz. in an interview that he voted against the site, but is open to having his mind changed.

Starbuds was offered a chance to speak at the last meeting before the vote was held, but did not. Baker said it was a misunderstanding.

The mayor has the choice to bring any item back for discussion within 30 days, which Baker has exercised – giving Starbuds a second chance to make a first impression.

Dec. 5, 2018

National cannabis retail chain, Starbuds, says it hasn’t lost hope in opening a retail store in Lake Country after council denied it a necessary permit to operate.

Daniel Winer, marketing director at Starbuds, told the oz. the company will appear before Lake Country council later this month to discuss the decision to deny the variance permit that would have allowed it to open closer to a daycare than is currently allowed.

“We are disappointed by (the) decision, but we have spoken with Lake Country officials, and look forward to getting in front of them again on Dec. 18,” said Winer.

A Compass Cannabis Clinic is currently located in the plaza with council’s approval would be able to switch to the company’s retail branch, which is Starbuds.

“We believe the decision was made due to some misinformation around cannabis safety, so we hope to discuss our focus on fighting the stigma around cannabis while bringing the first recreational cannabis store to the Okanagan Valley.”

Starbuds president Dave Martyn posted a series of 10 tweets Wednesday laying out his case.


(Click the photo for more)

Council at odds

Lake Country Coun. Todd McKenzie told the oz. he was one of three who voted to support the permit for a number of reasons.

“We have a liquor store in between this site and the daycare, which should be treated similar in my mind,” he said.

However, it was defeated in a 4-3 split at the Tuesday night council meeting.

Mayor James Baker did not answer requests from the oz. for comment. Still, he told The Daily Courier that Starbuds gambled, and lost.

“The store owners were gambling that they would be able to get a variance, and that gamble hasn’t paid off for them,” Baker told the paper.

Those who frequent the Kelowna subreddit reacted to the news.

“It’s about educating the public and having everyone aware of the risks of cannabis,” said one reader.” It is NOT appropriate to play big brother for everyone based off fear, paranoia and what was clearly propaganda (Reefer Madness).

Another said it was hypocrisy: “It’s okay to get blackout drunk in the pub right across from the daycare though.”

Update: Dec. 5 at noon

Now that local politicians quashed a cannabis store permit, the future of the proposed Starbuds in Lake Country’s Turtle Bay Crossing is unclear.

The president of Compass Cannabis Clinic and Starbuds, Dave Martyn, told the local newspaper that he’s now considering pulling out of Lake Country completely.

“It’s disappointing. I think it’s a poor move on a lot of levels,” he told the Lake Country Calendar. “I think Lake Country has probably taken a stance against cannabis businesses in a negative manner. I find it surprising given that this would have been the first in the Okanagan.”

“Honestly for us as an Okanagan based business, (which) has looked outside of the Okanagan for corporate offices and things like that, I would suggest you would see a likelihood of the business leaving here and the jobs leaving with it.”

A report by staff has some insight into next steps.

“If council were to not approve this application, district staff will not bring the cannabis licence referral to council and will send the province a negative referral based on the inability to meet the buffering requirement as set by council within the zoning bylaw,” says the report.

Is the proposed store completely quashed?

We’ve reached out to the mayor, members of council, the franchise, and the local chamber for clarification and comment.

Infonews has good insight from the meeting.

Original: Dec. 4 at 9:30 p.m.

Cannabis won’t be for sale in Lake Country before Christmas.

Lake Country council voted against district staff’s recommendation to approve a variance.

It would have allowed the current Compass Cannabis Clinic in Turtle Bay Crossing to operate closer to a daycare than the 400 metres allowed under the bylaw.

New Beginnings, which operates the nearby daycare, had sent in a letter of support for the cannabis store.

A liquor store in the Turtle Bay Crossing plaza currently operates closer to the temporary daycare than the proposed cannabis store location. A pub is across the road.

This decision is a surprise, as the variance permit was expected to pass.

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