Two cannabis dispensaries are en route to opening up in Esquimalt.
Presently the Township has no dispensaries, though in June 2018 council adjusted its zoning bylaws to theoretically allow cannabis lounges.
In a lengthy approval process between the Township and the province the two businesses are not quite halfway through the process after gaining the rezoning approval from Esquimalt.
The stores were discussed in October when council first approved rezoning for Alternative Aromatics, which is applying for a spot at 524 Admirals Rd.
Coun. Ken Armour was one of the four councillors in favour of the location.
“I think it’s a good location for a store such as this because it’s more of a business district,” he said, adding that some people were concerned about the store’s proximity to a preschool. ” I personally don’t think that for a preschool that that’s a significant issue… there’s not a significant risk of preschoolers accessing products to the store.”
Coun. Tim Morrison, however, was adamantly against it.
“When this was all set up, the provincial government said to municipalities that if you don’t want to have them then you don’t have to have them,” he said. “I’m wondering why we’re causing all this undue grief and headaches for ourselves? Is there a need, perhaps, but there’s certainly services of this kind existing outside the region.”
Other councillors argued that forcing residents out of the region will likely lose customers for other retailers, such as grocery shopping, in addition to making the community less walkable.
The rezoning passed 4-2, with Mayor Barb Desjardins excusing herself for fiduciary reasons.
The second dispensary to receive a zoning change was Misty Mountain Cannabis at 1314 Esquimalt Rd.
Both businesses are responsible for obtaining an occupancy permit, and must then await provincial approval to deem them as “fit and proper” for business. Esquimalt has already held a public consultation for these businesses, so now they must pay a fee and wait for approval from the LCRB for a licence. If approved, the Township will then issue a business licence.
Presently, the closest legal dispensary is the Pineapple Express Dispensary at 608 Esquimalt Rd., which is just across the Esquimalt border in Vic West.