Sylvan Lake denies downtown cannabis shop application

The cannabis shop wanted to open in Varsity Mall, but was in violation of the 150m setback

Sylvan Lake town council has chosen not to allow a new cannabis shop to open in the downtown area.

Firestone Cannabis applied to open a new store in Varsity Mall, which is in the Waterfront Control Area, which means council has the final say in any applications for the area.

The concern of many councillors is the store’s proximity to areas where children gather, primarily the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library.

When cannabis was legalized, council decided retail locations cannot be with 150 metres of a health care facility, recreation centre, school or library.

The province states cannabis retail outlets cannot be 100 metres of these facilities.

The town’s staff felt the application should be approved, believing the distance from the library to the peoposed location, a difference of about 20 metres from the town’s requirements, would be negligible.

Firestone Cannabis president Kyle Murphy presented his case to council Monday, hoping to swing the vote in his favour.

“By reviewing the goals of the Waterfront Area Redevelopment Plan, it is clear that a cannabis retail development at this site is congruent with council’s efforts to revitalize the waterfront area,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the location would benefit from being surrounded by other adult-orientated businesses, such as a convenience store, a liquor store and other outlets that mostly cater to adults.

Coun. Megan Hanson said she was in favour of the application, because the Varsity Mall location faces away from the library and is set back from the sidewalk, making it less likely children would walk in the store.

She said the back corner of Varsity Mall would be the “ideal location” for a cannabis retail shop in the downtown area.

However, other councillors were not in favour of the application, stating the 150-metre setback was put in place for a reason.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said he went back and worth on his decision, saying he is in favour of bringing new business into the downtown, but agreeing the setbacks for cannabis retail stores were put in place for a reason.

“Ultimately, I look at the other locations … they worked hard to work with our regulations and have set up in other areas, away from places like the library,” McIntyre said.

The motion to allow Firestone Cannabis to set up shop in Varsity Mall was defeated by a four-to-two vote.

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