City grants unanimous approval for cannabis retail store request
Swift Current City Council unanimously approved a discretionary use permit which will allow for Swift Current’s first cannabis retail store.
Dreamweaver’s Cannabis Products Inc. has now successfully negotiated the discretionary use process to locate their cannabis retail location at 106 Central Ave. N.
Council voted in favour of the development after receiving a city administration report which found the development permit application met all requirements set out in the City’s zoning bylaw.
While the location was not open for the first day of the legalization of cannabis on October 17, it will become one of 60 permit locations approved by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).
The City of Swift Current utilized discretionary use provisions to regulate the location of this retail cannabis location in the newly zoned Central Downtown District.
The administration report provided their professional opinion on the issue based on a trio of criteria: Does the proposal meet the City’s Zoning Bylaw Regulations? Will the proposal create nuisance and danger to the public? Will the proposal impede orderly development of surrounding property(s)?
“Administration does not have any concerns with the proposed development regarding nuisance and danger to the public from a land use perspective,” Michael Ruus, General Manager, Planning and Growth Development, said while presenting the report.
“As a retail use, Administration does not have any concerns with the proposed development regarding the potential to impede orderly development of surrounding property(s).”
“As part of our review on any issues that we deal with, we do a best practices review,” Ruus explained. “So in this case we’ve taken a look at other jurisdictions, other provinces, and municipalities within Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, the majority of the municipalities all have at least the allowance for retail cannabis stores within the downtown core.”
Councillor Ron Toles said the entire cannabis retail store situation has been uncomfortable because of the rushed nature of the legalization process.
“I think I’ve been very clear on this from the very beginning that I’m not totally in favour of the way things were handed from Ottawa down to us. And I make that same consideration now. Federal level, provincial level, municipal level, we were all kind of caught with our pants down, not knowing just exactly what the processes were going to be.”
He said that the October 17 legalization date is riddled with issues, with predictions of cannabis shortages and many locations being unable to open because of a lack of product and other issues.
“I’m not opposed to cannabis retail stores in Swift Current. It’s a thing that we have to live with. And I guess I’m not even opposed to having them in the downtown area. We already have several liquor outlets, legal, intoxicating beverages, available in the downtown area,” he said.
“I guess the proof will be in the results, and we can revisit this another time if we are getting results that we don’t like. But as of right now I can’t see a cannabis retail store being any more threat to the public or the property than the liquor retail stores or the bars and things that we have downtown already.”
“I intend to reluctantly vote in favour of this because it addresses all the bylaw issues, and there’s no real reason municipally to oppose it. So mine is a very personal opposition, but I will vote in favour of the motion just because it’s laid out in a way that it’s a legal business, they’ve applied for a legal business licence, they have a place to operate, and I don’t see where I have the right to stop that.”
Celeste and Ron Gerber from Dreamweavers Cannabis Products Inc. made a presentation to city council during a discretionary use public hearing on September 28 in regards to their proposed cannabis retail store.
In her presentation she wanted to dispel some misconceptions regarding cannabis by sharing her history with the drug.
“Prior to 2016, I really didn’t have any experience with cannabis. And then I was diagnosed with cancer and so my life completely changed at that point.”
She recalls that before she started chemotherapy, one of her friends gave her a package of hard watermelon candies laced with cannabis, telling her she was going to need them during treatment.
She initially put them away in a drawer and forgot about them.
“I was going through chemo, and after a particularly rough time after one of my sessions, I said to my husband ‘I just can’t deal with this.’”
She was on prescribed drugs for the pain and nausea side effects of chemotherapy, but she found she could not function and tried the cannabis to see how it helped.
“Honestly, it was like the sky opened up and rained happiness down on me because all of a sudden I could think clearly, the nausea had gone, I didn’t have any pain. And I was like, oh this is wonderful stuff. So I became an instant convert.”
Afterwards she was prescribed medical cannabis oil to help with reducing nausea and residual pain after chemotherapy.
“I didn’t really have a relationship with cannabis at all before that. Then I learned that they are prescribing it for a lot of ailments now, such as epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, anxiety, and migraines to name a few.”
During her recovery, Saskatchewan issued the request for proposals for retail stores.
“At that point my husband and I said that that was a good opportunity for us to give back to the community at large, and sort of educate people and help people.”
She said their shop will be offering a place for consumers to purchase safe and unaltered products.
“It’s going to be a high end shop, with lots of modern finishes,” she explained. “It is not going to be what you would think a stereotypical head shop would be. It’s not like that at all.”
Their location will include an information centre to educate people about cannabis.
As per SLGA regulations, they will sell only pre-sealed packages of cannabis.
Point of sale software will be used to track purchase amounts, with customers limited to a daily maximum of 30 grams.
“We feel that our business will help refresh the downtown core. Because it’s going to be a destination store.”
They expect to be hiring between four and six full-time employees.
“As cannabis is a completely new industry, we really don’t know what the actual demographic will be that will be using our products. But I would suspect it will be very much like a liquor store.”
There were a total of six written submissions made during the discretionary use public hearing process, with five objecting to the proposal and one writing in favour.