City grants unan­i­mous ap­proval for cannabis re­tail store re­quest

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

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.

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