Sidney council signalled its support for additional cannabis outlets on Beacon Avenue after councillors last month showed their support for the cannabis business formerly known as Happy Buddha Cannabis as proposed by Zach Pendergast, Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney signals support for additional cannabis stores on Beacon Avenue

Legal fight with cannabis business cost Sidney almost $40,000

A Sidney councillor accused her colleagues of sacrificing public health for economic motives as the municipality opened the door for additional cannabis retail locations on Beacon Avenue, the community’s premier shopping street.

The public also heard Monday, Oct. 5 that the municipality has spent almost $40,000 in a legal dispute with a cannabis business preparing to open its doors on Beacon on Nov. 1.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe levelled that charge as council meeting as committee voted 6-1 in favour of rescinding a resolution that would have prohibited cannabis stores on Beacon Avenue.

“To me, we are sending the message that economic benefit is more important than the health and well-being of youth in our community,” she said.

Councillors considered the issue one week after signalling their support for plans by the business formerly known as Happy Buddhas Cannabis to open its doors in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue. While a vote in favour of maintaining the prohibition would not have impacted the business’ status, O’Keeffe was pushing for a resolution that would have confirmed a non-conforming use.

O’Keeffe pointed to input from Vancouver Island Health Authority, which she described as public health officials cautioning against “pursuing economic gain from the legalization of non-medical cannabis.”

RELATED: More cannabis stores could be coming to Sidney’s Beacon Avenue

The promotion and protection of public health should remain council’s primary concern, she said.“And based on that, I don’t think we should not be entertaining any further cannabis stores on Beacon,” she said.

She also accused staff of misrepresenting council’s position.

“I want to comment on something in the staff report that suggests that the only concern that council had in regards to cannabis stores on Beacon was the windows (issue),” she said. “There was significant concern from several members of council about the health impacts on youth as outlined by Island Health.”

She also questioned language from staff that “suggested” cannabis should be treated in same manner as alcohol. “However, we have very clear guidelines from health authorities that it should be treated differently,” she said.

RELATED:Sidney council signals support for recreational cannabis store

O’Keeffe said rescinding the motion would rob the municipality of the means to regulate cannabis. In fact, O’Keeffe said Sidney should also look into ways to mitigate the harms of alcohol as well as tobacco, including buffer zones.

O’Keeffe’s concerns did not find support around the council table, including from voices like Coun. Chad Rintoul, who previously expressed reservations.

“To Coun. O’Keeffe, I would suggest that the horse is out of the barn,” he said. “I’m not comfortable with seeing us put one vendor in a position of having a monopoly potentially. Our job is not to regulate the business environment, but to create opportunities for business in that sense.”

Coun. Peter Wainwright agreed and warned his colleagues of protracting the debate around cannabis on Beacon Avenue against the backdrop of previous public input and the municipality’s legal fight with the business formerly known as Happy Buddha Cannabis.

RELATED:Sidney entrepreneurs drop Buddha from name of proposed cannabis shop

“Our legal fees were about $38,000 on the court case over this cannabis retail on Beacon,” he said. “By all means, let’s make a zoning bylaw amendment that is going to require to spend money on a public hearing and advertising on a public hearing and all of the staff time, because we know that that is going to be totally different from the decision we made, what, just a week ago? Can you say waste of money? It’s not about whether Island Health’s advice is worth listening to or not. It’s about whether it’s appropriate to waste money on something we just decided.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive on Oct. 20 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich the night before. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear spotted several times in Saanich likely to be euthanized

Conservation officers still searching for bear reported near Elk Lake Drive

Frederick Lee and Eva Lillian Baker lived in Victoria from the 1930s until their passing. Now, their great nephew who lives in Birmingham, U.K. is asking for Victoria residents’ help to learn more. (Courtesy Derek Roft)
Don your detective hats Greater Victoria — a U.K. man wants your help

Derek Roft is on a mission to find out more about relatives that emigrated to Canada in 1912

Canadians have been spending more money, not to too mention more time on online technology, according to Statistics Canada. (Black Press Media File)
YouTube, other free streaming services big winners as Canadians spent more time online

More than four in 10 Canadians experienced at least one type of cyber-security incident

(Black Press Media file photo)
Be prepared: Know what to do in the event of a tsunami warning

Localized alert systems can provide potentially life-saving information

The Alberni-Clayoquot Recycling Depot is located on Third Avenue in Port Alberni. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
EDITORIAL: It’s Waste Reduction Week in Canada. What are you doing to reduce waste?

How can you challenge yourself to assist in diverting more waste from the landfill?

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

A mature Garry oak fell onto Richmond Road on Oct. 13 near Camosun College Lansdowne campus. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Crashing Garry oaks raise urban tree concerns

Saanich responded to 59 tree-related calls

The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
Sexual assault suspect sought by West Shore RCMP

Police are looking for help identifying this man

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A concept of homes on Ronald Road as part of the Clark-Medd project. (Lantzville Projects Ltd. image)
Lantzville moves along massive housing development as protesters rally outside district hall

Council passes third readings of OCP amendment for Clark-Medd project by 3-2 votes

A pair of students take part in the Greenways Land Trust Junior Streamkeeper program last year. Photo supplied by Greenways Land Trust
Greenways continues work with school groups in Campbell River despite pandemic

Environmental group has concerns with possible loss of volunteers, however

Most Read