Coquitlam should review cannabis store app after fine
The plaintiff was fined for selling to a minor at another location in British Columbia.
In Coquitlam, public hearings are the primary way for residents to express their views and help our City Council make informed decisions on the important issues facing our city..
After participating in dozens of public hearings over the years, I have observed that Coquitlam Council routinely gives unanimous approval to proposals in the face of strong opposition from residents.
This makes these forums more symbolic than impactful when it comes to decisions faced by our local leaders.
An example is the April 25 public hearing. The plaintiff was the Local Leaf Cannabis retail store at 2957 Glen Dr. Area residents came out in force with concerns about the safety of children and youth, and rising business-related crime.
Residents objected (verbally and in writing) to the proposed location, a residential condo tower that is home to hundreds of young families. This location also happens to be our family doctor’s former office. Does anyone else care that we’re losing doctors and gaining cannabis stores in our city? I will put this subject aside for another time.
Returning to the hearing, the Local Leaf Cannabis plaintiff seemed well prepared to address the aforementioned concerns. She assured the council that the operator had an impeccable record, with “zero complaints”. She assured the council that there would be aroma mitigation, identity checks at the door and oversight by a provincial regulator. She described anecdotally how the presence of Local Leaf Cannabis would reduce crime and eliminate the illicit distribution of cannabis in the community. The board approved the request unanimously.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Retail cannabis is a new concept for our city. A speaker at the April 25 hearing noted that we should have a “high bar” for approving early settlements in Coquitlam.
Although residents assume that council and staff have done the necessary due diligence regarding these matters before proceeding to a public hearing, a recent Tri-City News article indicates that Local Leaf Cannabis has been fined for having sold to a miner in Terrace. three months before the public hearing. Why did this material fact appear a week after public hearing? Can the Coquitlam City Council claim that an informed decision has been made regarding this approval? What other details could have been omitted from this request?
I am not clear on the rights and obligations of the parties in this context. However, I believe Coquitlam residents expect applicants and decision makers to act in good faith when approving the location of a new business in Coquitlam. I suggest that the board reopen this file for proper public scrutiny.
Ben Craig, Coquitlam