Published on December 18, 2018 by David Wylie

Starbuds approved in Okanagan

Cannabis will be for sale in the Okanagan in early 2019.

Lake Country council reversed its earlier decision and passed a variance Tuesday night that will allow a Starbuds cannabis retail store in the community.

“We needed a win for the cannabis community in the Okanagan,” said Starbuds president Dave Martyn after the decision. “This is a good first win.”

This will likely be the first cannabis store open in the Valley – it could be open as early as Jan. 2.

It’s located nearly midway between two of the Okanagan’s largest cities, Kelowna and Vernon. Neither of those communities are expected to have retail cannabis available until at least late spring 2019.

“This is a business the community deserves and now we need to live up to the promises we made to the community,” said Martyn.

Council chambers was filled, mostly with supporters of the store.

“One of the challenges has always been getting community members supporting us behind closed doors to come out and make a speech about their relationship with cannabis and how it’s affected their lives in a positive manner.”

In early December, the municipal council voted 4-3 against district staff’s recommendation to approve a variance for the location in Turtle Bay Crossing.

This time around, the variance passed 7-0.

“Denying it would be a step in the wrong direction,” said Coun. Jerremy Kozub.

The variance is for the current Compass Cannabis Clinic in Turtle Bay Crossing to operate closer to a daycare than the 400 metres allowed under the bylaw. New Beginnings, which operates the nearby daycare, had sent in a letter of support for the cannabis store.

Some councillors expressed concerns over fairness, saying other potential cannabis stores have been trying to operate within the zoning bylaw from the start.

Several made a point to explain they were never against cannabis businesses, but voted against the variance for other reasons.

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