Board Approves First Two Business License Appeals For Vancouver Dispensaries

After two rounds of appeals from Vancouver dispensaries, the Board of Variance has begun pushing back against some of the city’s restrictions, approving two of the four shops to move forward with obtaining their license.

Both Greatful Med (211 E 16th Ave) and Point Grey Cannabis Ltd (3357 W 4th Ave) had their rejections overturned by the board last night

Board members said that the city’s system for measurement distance from dispensaries to restricted zones were inconsistent and too vague to be applied in some cases.

The City of Vancouver requires dispensaries to be located at least 300 m from areas like schools and community centres as well as from other dispensaries.

Vancouver communications spokesperson Jason Watson said the successful appeals don’t mean any changes to the city’s process going forward.

“The Board of Variance is the standard appeal process for all development permit applications,” Watson said, in an email. “Staff are implementing the zoning regulations adopted by Council in June 2015; no changes are proposed at this point.”

Cannabis Growers of Canada executive director Ian Dawkins said it’s great news for the two businesses that successfully appealed, but there are still dozens of others who won’t be so lucky.

“It doesn’t matter how many scraps the Board of Variance throws out, it’s still woefully inadequate to meet the demand that clearly exists in Vancouver,” Dawkins said. “It’s not fair to all of the perfectly good applicants whose businesses are about to be shut down, no matter how good of work they do.”

The two businesses don’t automatically qualify for a license from the city and instead now move to the next round of the process.

“The board overturned the director of planning decision on the preliminary development permit. The board does not grant development permits or business licences,” Watson said. “The next step for the applicant is to submit a full development permit application for City staff and community review.”

Watson said that city bylaws still apply as part of this review and the director of planning can reject the application for a license.

Karuna Health Foundation also had two locations appealing their rejections, the first (3634 W 4th Ave) was rejected and the second (1938 W Broadway) had the decision stayed when representatives told the board that the location will become an information centre and drop its retail component.

The next round of appeals to the board will take place Apr. 20.