Opposition voiced during public hearing about cannabis business location rezoning map
A pair of dissenting voices spoke out in opposition to the City of Swift Current’s proposed zoning changes permitting where licenced cannabis retailers can be situated in the community.
Both the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative, which operates The Centre, and East Side Church of God, the primary financial backer of The Centre, expressed their concerns of a retailer setting up in close proximity to The Center.
A public hearing was held before the August 27 City Council meeting regarding council’s proposed amendments to their current zoning bylaw in order to control of where cannabis retailers can be located. Their opposition was regarding the rezoning of the downtown core into a direct control area for that permitted use, and the inclusion of their own street as a permitted use area.
“We know that this isn’t something a lot of people want. The vast majority of people don’t want to see cannabis stores by the youth centre. It’s a common sense factor,” SCCYI Executive Director Nathan Wiebe explained after Monday’s hearing.
“More or less we just want to have a voice for The Center, and for establishments like The Center to keep it as safe as we possibly can in our community. To provide this buffer, or whatever City Council decides on, just to state the fact that they want to continue to protect youth.”
He noted the programming at The Center is designed to provide a safe place for youth, something that would be jeopardized by a nearby cannabis retail store.
“Our concern is about the potential of a cannabis retail store being permitted to operated in close vicinity to The Center, which would directly counter the ability of The Center to achieve its above-stated goals.”
Pastor Kevin Snyder from East Side Church of God proposed that the City implement safeguards to avoid this situation.
“We propose that any areas zoned to allow the operation of cannabis retail stores to operated should include restrictions to provide a buffer zone between such stores and the places that our children and our youth gathered.”
Their presentation noted that other communities have instituted operational restrictions by placing a 100 to 300 metre buffer zone from youth and child-care facilities. They also suggested the City could consider a restriction on prohibiting a cannabis retail store from operating on the same block. Additionally, they could consider removing the zero to 100 block of 1st Ave. N.E. as a permitted zone.
City Council will consider second and third reading of this land use control bylaw at their September 10 meeting.