Op­po­si­tion voiced dur­ing pub­lic hear­ing about cannabis busi­ness lo­ca­tion re­zon­ing map

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

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.

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