April 23rd, 2024

Coaldale passes rezoning bylaw for first cannabis store


By Nikki Jamieson SOUTHERN ALBERTA NEWSPAPERS on April 20, 2021.

The 3G Eatery building in Coaldale was recently rezoned to allow for the use of a cannabis retail store. Southern Alberta Newspapers photo by Nikki Jamieson

LETHBRIDGE HERALDssnews@sunnysouthnews.com

Coaldale town council has approved a rezoning bylaw which would allow for the first cannabis retail store in town.

A public hearing for rezoning Bylaw 805-P-03-21 was held during Coaldale town council’s regular April 12 meeting. The bylaw would allow for the rezoning from Commercial (C-1) to Direct Control (DC) district.

The applicant, Bud Supply Group, had entered into a tentative lease agreement with the owner of the property located in an existing building at 1908 18 Street, currently 3G Eatery, for the purpose of renovating the building to allow for the operation of a cannabis retail store. In order for a cannabis retail store to operate there, the land would need to be rezoned to direct control, as the current C-1 zoning does not allow for the operation of a cannabis retail store. This bylaw would not necessarily allow for a cannabis retail store to open, as in addition to regulatory approval from the town, they would need to meet licensing requirements from the AGLC before they can operate.

“Council should keep in mind, over and beyond any municipal regulations, there are substantial rules in place governing these types of operations, which are mandated by the provincial government,” said Cam Mills, manager of economic and community development for the town. “The applicant, as an owner of multiple locations, is quite aware of these requirements.”

The bylaw contains the same requirement as a C-1 zoning, but with the addition of cannabis retail sales. This way, if the use is in place but operators want to shift or partially shift, a rezoning bylaw is not necessarily required. Mills said it was written that way because it was simpler and less costly for the business owner, more efficient for town staff and less costly to the town. It also allows for town staff to make a determination on the development permit for the application, as “the use has fundamentally been approved at rezoning”.

Representatives from Bud Supply Group gave a presentation during the public hearing, and spoke on their other locations, security, aesthetics and locality of the business.

Chase Bennett, CEO of Bud Supply Group, responding to questions regarding security and dealings with police in their other locations, indicated they employ extensive video surveillance technology and have to follow stringent AGLC requirements.

“We never really see anyone coming in with lingering issues. We’ve actually phoned the RCMP or city police when people have been booting for other people, it’s just the same way as liquor. We are tied to that info, so like the fines are very, very steep with the AGLC, and as well, it’s just the stringent requirements. Everything is on camera,” said Bennett.

“We really haven’t had any lingering issues. There’s been a couple of our locations where we do have parking concerns, just because of where we’re situated, but in Coaldale that is not a concern whatsoever.”

He said customers also have a tendency to spend only five to ten minutes in the store at a time.

Blaine Emelson, CCO for the group, noted that it was mainly “other things around the location”, such as an incident where a car’s taillights were smashed with police using their video to apprehend the perpetrator.

“Police officers are, you know, inspectors in the AGLC world, so we have to basically treat them as such, so they have full access to walk through the building, to view all of our camera recordings, and we just feel like the more we can cooperate, the better it’s going to be for everybody including the industry,” said Emelson.

Emelson also noted that as there is no cannabis retail store currently in Coaldale, by default those customers are spending their money elsewhere.

Property owners Shauna and Walter Gomez, who run 3G Eatery, the restaurant currently at the location, said that the ongoing pandemic has been hard on restaurants – an already hard industry – making the past year especially difficult for them. They had talked about this for a while, eventually talking to Mills and being introduced to Bennett, saying this has been a huge blessing for them. Noting they had offered Bud Supply Group the use of the entire building, which they declined, Shauna said it gave them the option, if they decide not to stay right now, to come back and reopen at a later date.

“For us, this is an opportunity for us to take some time to get our feet under us and regroup as a family, regroup as a business,” said Shauna.

As of April 1, 11 written responses were received by the town. According to guestbook entries in the agenda, the most current being April 8, 16 people sent in feedback, with all but two in support of the business. Two new letters were also included in the agenda package sent after first reading, with one requesting they limit cannabis stores by population and another from Pincher Creek RCMP saying they have not had any complaints or seen increased usage after a store was set up in their community.

After the agenda was made, the town had received two additional letters with concerns regarding to the bylaw. The first was from a town resident in opposition to the business.

The second letter was signed by five practitioners at the Campbell Clinic, who were concerned about some waivements in the bylaw. They were not challenging the decriminalization or the role of medical marijuana, but were against the location.

No one was present at the public hearing to speak against the bylaw.

Council passed second and the third and final reading of Bylaw 805-P-03-21 in split 5-2 votes, with Coun. Doreen Lloyd and Coun. Jacen Abrey voting in opposition.

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