Sidney plans to hear revised plans for what could be it’s first recreational cannabis retail store.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith announced the yet-to-be scheduled hearing during the July 20 council meeting.
“With the matter no longer before the courts, the Town and council will now follow its statutory procedures to review the revised application at a future council meeting or meetings, and the process will include adhering to the judge’s ruling that council must obtain views from the public, and then submit its decision and a summary of those views to the [Liquor Control and Licensing Branch]. The [Liquor Control and Licensing Branch] will then decide whether to approve the application.”
A court ruled against the municipality following Sidney’s decision in the fall of 2019 to deny an application from Happy Buddha Cannabis to open in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue. Sidney justified its initial decision to deny the application on the basis of its policy requiring transparent windows along Beacon Avenue.
This policy directly contradicted provincial regulations from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCRB), prompting the business to start legal proceedings against the municipality, in part on the basis that the municipality cannot require the business to do something that is against provincial law.
“A municipal government cannot require what a provincial government prohibits,” said John Alexander, the business’ lawyer, at the time. “Provincial law trumps local municipal law.”
Justice Jennifer Power of the British Columbia Supreme Court agreed in her ruling issued July 15 — nearly a month after the LCRB had changed its requirements for opaque windows. In other words, by the time, Power issued her ruling, the previous conflict between municipal and provincial regulations had disappeared, technically leaving the application in compliance with both.
McNeil-Smith referenced this during the council meeting, noting that the municipality received a revised design with a transparent window design from the LCRB after that provincial announcement on June 18.
“Council has not reviewed the application because the matter was still before the court with the judge,” said McNeil-Smith.
“However, the Town did advise the lawyer for the petitioner that council would consider the revised application upon the petition being withdrawn, the case being dismissed by the judge, or the judge issuing her decision.”
Power also found that municipality failed to follow process in hearing the application, a gap that the municipality plans to address in the future public hearing.
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