When Dustin Schook submitted his application to open a cannabis retail shop in his building in Campbellton, he knew there would be plenty of hoops to jump through.
So he jumped.
“We’ve spent about $20,000 already on getting it all pulled together,” he says, standing outside The Scene, explaining that at the last minute, just before his application was set to go before council for approval, he was told he needed to offer more parking spots than he has at the location.
But that’s not his fault, he says. There simply aren’t enough spots available in Campbellton – not just at his store – and he’s asking the city to make some adjustments to fix that situation. He has launched a petition on Change.org requesting the city make changes to its bylaws to better accommodate businesses in the area.
“You’ve got all this open parking all along here, but because it’s owned by the Ministry of Transportation, it can’t count as parking you’re providing,” he says. “But there’s nowhere else to put cars. There are businesses with parking lots, but they’re either not even big enough for that business, or they refuse to share the space with neighbouring businesses.”
Dustin’s wife and business partner Ashley says the city has been making some poor choices lately in terms of its parking situation, but this is a chance to make a good one.
“My sister went to have lunch downtown and got a ticket because it took more than an hour,” she says. “How is it being business friendly to make it so that people don’t have enough time to do business without getting a ticket slapped on their car?”
But what Dustin is most concerned about is the lack of parking availability in Campbellton and the impact on the businesses there.
“Downtown, there’s parking everywhere, but none of it is being supplied by the businesses themselves. They could do the same thing here.”
A large part of the problem, he says, is that Highway 19 between the ferry terminal and the edge of town – Campbellton’s main thoroughfare – is owned by the province, not the town.
“Maybe the Ministry (of Transportation) will relinquish it or the city can change something to do what needs to be done to keep business in Campbellton,” Dustin says, “because the way it is right now, it’s driving business out or making it so that business doesn’t want to come here.”
Dustin says he’s made various proposals to the city that would see parking added to his property, but nothing has come of his ideas so far.
“I’m willing to give up 15 feet at the front of my property to make angled spaces so that people in the area can use it,” he says.
“I can’t take full advantage of the space, because there’s two stupid poles here, but that’s a separate issue. I can easily fit three spaces, but it doesn’t seem like the city is interested in doing that. I guess they’d rather see places go out of business, like the clothing store that was just over there,” he says pointing down the street to the north, “or like the sharpening place that was right over there,” he says, pointing south. “They both had to close or move, because people didn’t have anywhere to park.”
“And I proposed putting some spots in the back, and building a breezeway, and spending another ton of money,” he continues, “but then they say that customers will have to trespass on my neighbours property to get around the building to the door, so that’s not an option, either,” adds Ashley. “What is that about? People walk all over the place in cities. It’s not trespassing.”
Dustin is encouraging people to head to his online petition and add their support to the cause while he awaits his next meeting with city staff to see what can be done moving forward.
The petition can be found by heading to Change.org and searching the words “Campbell River.”