Advocate file photo.

No bending the rules for Red Deer’s cannabis locations

City council sticks to approved setback distances

When it comes to opening a cannabis retail shop, distance matters.

Red Deer city council is sending this strong message to prospective cannabis retailers after administrators were getting multiple requests for relaxations of the 150-metre distance that’s supposed to separate marijuana retail operations from each other, or the 300-metre distance requirement from schools, day cares and parks.

Coun. Michael Dawe said, “We wanted to make it quite clear that if we say a 300-metre separation, we mean it.”

Regardless of whether other municipalities give prospective cannabis retailers a setback relaxation, Red Deer city council does not have to follow suit, added Dawe. “We want to make an explicit statement: Our bylaw is not a guideline, it’s a rule.”

Since the city began accepting retail applications for marijuana retail sales outlets in July, 12 applicants met requirements and were approved, and another six sought setback relaxations.

These six applications were refused because the variances were considered excessive and could lead to the cluttering of cannabis outlets, potentially impacting the economic development of an area.

But several of the denied applicants have stated they will appeal the decision.

In light of this, Red Deer city council was asked by the planning commission to review its cannabis retail regulations and consider providing variance guidelines.

But city manager Craig Curtis had recommended that no variances be permitted, as council has already asked for a review in 14 months on the implication of the number of cannabis retail stores, separation distances and land use.

Council adopted his recommendation on Monday.

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