The second privately-owned cannabis retailer approved by Campbell River city council is officially The Scene in Campbellton.
But it took some convincing to make it happen.
Dustin Schook’s application had been in the city’s hands for quite some time. It was even scheduled to go before council a few months before it did, but it was pulled from the agenda prior to that meeting.
The issue with the application was that Schook couldn’t offer enough parking to meet the bylaw requirements for a cannabis retailer. Even on the night it was eventually approved, the staff report delivered to council by staff was recommending council deny the application due to these parking issues. Schook and his wife Ashley had launched a petition on Change.org earlier this year to bring attention to the issue, and received almost 200 signatures of support.
Undeterred by the city staff report recommending the application be denied, Schook himself presented to council, outlining the measures he was prepared to take to remedy the situation.
Schook said if the city would simply consider the parking along the side of the road fronting his building to be “provided” parking, there would be no issue, but since that road is owned by the provincial government, that wasn’t an option.
“As you know, Campbellton has parking issues, mainly due to the Ministry of Transportation’s grasp on the main road through it,” Schook says, so the six parking spots in front of his building and the five across the street don’t count towards the required number.
“So we have proposed installing a breezeway through our store and placing four parking spots in the rear for additional parking,” Schook told council. “I’ve also made an agreement with the owners of the Campbell River Lodge for an additional three parking spots within the allowable 200 metres of the property,” bringing the total spots available for the property to the required number of seven, even without considering the on-street parking owned by the province.
But technically, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet the bylaw requirement, as that bylaw states that the parking must be provided “on site,” so an agreement with a neighbour wouldn’t be good enough to meet the requirement. Of course, the city could just issue a variance and make it happen, according to Development Planning Supervisor Andy Gaylor.
“Certainly, as part of staff and council’s consideration of a variance permit,” Gaylor said, “would be considering one of two things. It could be allowing the shared parking arrangement that the applicant has secured with Campbell River Lodge or it could simply be reducing the amount of required on-site parking from seven to four, recognizing that there may be some practical concern with using the Campbell River Lodge, which is 100 metres away and across the street.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he was fine with granting the variance and issuing the cannabis permit, provided Schook followed through with creating the four spots behind the store.
“I think if you look at there being room in the back for four (spots) and the on-street parking that is available within 20 metres, it should be more than adequate,” Cornfield said.
In the end, council did confirm that they would recommend the province issue the cannabis retail license, but before the store can actually open, Schook will still need to acquire a variance from the city to nail down the parking details.