Regina City Council Approves Discretionary Use Application for Cannabis Store

In 2021, Joint Head Inc. owner Bartozs Stras purchased a vacant building in a strip mall in Whitmore Park to open a cannabis store. The business has obtained development permits from the City of Regina to begin renovations to the building and was expected to open in the spring of 2022.

However, six months later and just weeks before Stras was set to open the dispensary, he was informed by the city that his license had been revoked after discovering that a school was operating in the mall.

“If there had been any indication [of the school] from the city or through our own due diligence process, we would not have submitted an application for this location,” Stras told council Wednesday. “We would not have signed a final lease or spent the northern $250,000 required to develop the space and prepare it for its intended use.”

The city’s current zoning regulations state that cannabis stores cannot operate within 60 yards of a school or any other public community center. The Montessori school is less than 40 meters from the store.

Stras said the school was not in operation when the company was looking for the location due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

A community feedback report conducted by the city found that only three people in the neighborhood were in favor of the store’s location and 31 opposed it.

However, the city administration said the opponents’ comments were for reasons not described by the requirements of the bylaw.

Next to the Montessori school is a pub. A church also sits next to the store, where community members said it hosted children’s programs and drug addiction services.

“The church was there first,” said neighborhood resident Catherine Gibson. “They opened their doors to all ages and provided a safe and welcoming place for anyone who wanted to come. The last thing we need is the predominance of recreational products.

The council approved the application after finding that the city had not done its own due diligence before allowing the initial permits.

“It’s not their fault; it was ours,” Ward 4 councilwoman Lori Bresciani said. “But I think it’s very important that we take a look before we do this because it’s quite embarrassing for our city.”

The store owner must comply with all other municipal, state and federal regulations and laws in order to operate.

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