A local business owner used his entire allotted 15-minutes trying to convince city officials to let his company build a retail cannabis outlet in Rutland – but the proposal was shot down by Kelowna’s councillors.
Council voted 6-2 against considering rezoning property in the Willow Park Mall on Highway 33 to allow Argent Diversified Holdings (ADH) president Matt Dober to set up shop.
ADH owns Flora Cannabis and several other businesses in the city. At the centre of the issue was that ADH’s propose location is within 500 metres of another cannabis retail outlet, Eggs Canna, located across Highway 33, in the Hollywood Station Mall. That is not allowed under city bylaws.
“What public harm will be caused by permitting us to operate at this location?” asked Dober in making his case to council. “Council has approved other locations within 500 metres, that is our argument.”
Flora has three stores in Kelowna, but none in the Rutland neighbourhood. The only other cannabis store in the area is Cheeba Cheebas on Rutland Road South. Most of council supported staying with the bylaw, although some councillors and Dober pointed out exceptions have been made in downtown Kelowna.
“I submit the Rutland urban area is downtown 2.0,” said Dober.
Councillor Charlie Hodge supported the rezoning and added he didn’t feel a third store in the Rutland area would create major competition.
“‘I’ve never agreed with the 500-metre policy,” he said.
Mayor Colin Basran supported rezoning and sending the development to a public hearing, but decided to vote against.
Coun. Brad Sieben excused himself from the discussion, citing a conflict of interest.