Residents can let the city know their thoughts on the proposed rezoning of the former Marble Slab location on Second Avenue to allow for a cannabis retail shop.
Whitehorse city council passed first reading of the bylaw to rezone 2220 Second Ave. for restricted commercial operations within 100 metres of a school on July 25. The change would allow the Community Cannabis store to open.
Community Cannabis owners Jordan Stackhouse and Daniel Schneider are applying for the zoning change following confusion over the measured distance between the proposed shop and the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre.
As the pair explained in a previous presentation to council, before signing the lease for the retail space they researched the buffers required and believed their location met the requirements. After signing the lease they were informed it was within 150 metres of a school — the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre on Fourth Avenue — based on the method of measurement which runs from lot line to lot line, rather than the distance between individual establishments.
Under territorial legislation, cannabis retail locations must be more than 150 metres from secondary schools unless a municipality opts to alter that requirement in their community. Thus, the prospective retailers are seeking the zoning amendment to allow the shop to open within 100 metres of the high school, the same distance the city requires cannabis shops to be from temporary shelter services; services for youth at risk or those suffering from substance abuse; lots zoned as parks and recreation which have a play structure; and other lots zoned for restricted retail.
While council was unanimous in passing first reading, which brings the zoning change to the public hearing stage, Coun. Michelle Friesen voted earlier in the meeting against moving the bylaw forward to first reading.
That vote came after she raised questions about its proximity to Shipyards Park, which has a playground structure and would also be within 100 metres of the store.
As Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services explained, Shipyards Park falls under a waterfront zoning and thus the regulation does not apply to either Shipyards Park or Rotary Park, which has the same zoning and is also along the downtown waterfront.
Both Friesen and Coun. Kirk Cameron also confirmed with city staff the rezoning would apply solely to the Second Avenue property, although it was noted the city could look at a broader change when the zoning bylaw goes through an overall review.
In an interview following the meeting, Friesen explained her reasons for voting in favour of first reading after she had voted against initially moving forward with the bylaw.
She said while she still has some questions about the vicinity to the playground in Shipyards Park, which prompted her initial vote against moving forward with the bylaw, she is also open to hearing from the community on the proposed rezoning.
“I just have some learning to do,” she said, adding she will be looking at it further and listening to any input provided before making a decision on how she will vote on the final two bylaw readings.
The public hearing will be held Sept. 12.
Questioned by Coun. Ted Laking about the public hearing process, Gau noted the period for residents to bring forward their input begins following first reading, with the city accepting emailed and written submissions that can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or 2121 Second Ave., Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 1C2.
Residents can also speak directly to council during the public hearing at the Sept. 12 council meeting, which will close the time period for residents to make submissions.
A report on the hearing will come forward to council Oct. 3, followed by second and third reading Oct. 10.
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