city hall

Budzilla Successfully Appeals at Vancouver Board of Variance Hearing

The Budzilla Dispensary (2267 Kingsway), whose owner Rejean Houle last week said that his landlord had locked him out of his business, successfully appealed the City of Vancouver‘s decision to deny the location a business license.

Budzilla had been initially denied a chance to go through the city’s licensing system after losing out in the “de-clustering” process set up by officials to determine which applicant will advance when more than two dispensaries are within 300 metres of one another.

Rejean Houle Budzilla Board of Variance
Budzilla owner Rejean Houle (centre) outside of Vancouver City Hall.

Houle’s application received more demerit points than another applicant in the area that had not yet opened at the time.

Houle received 17 demerits for his application, including 10 for operating as a for-profit business and three for doing work on the space without a permit.

Budzilla was also given four demerits for having a “location considered a problem premise” by the Vancouver Police Department.

“The VPD have concerns with the location as there are five charges pending from 2014, two for trafficking, three for possession,” read a letter signed by deputy chief license inspector Sarah Hicks in the city’s decision. “In August and November of 2014 there were break and enters.”

Houle had said at the time it wasn’t fair he was given demerits for crimes committed against his own business.

Months later and the other dispensary had withdrawn its application from the city.

Board of Variance chair Gilbert Tan asked city staff to clarify the declustering situation with the other applicant now removed from the equation as it was the cause of Houle’s initial rejection.

City of Vancouver Development Review Branch Supervisor Darren Lee told the board that the city’s original issues were no longer relevant given the withdrawal of the second dispensary that caused the declustering system to be initiated.

The Board of Variance then voted unanimously in favour of Budzilla’s appeal, the only success of the night of the seven dispensaries slated to go in front of the board.

The Green Room Society (555 Dunsmuir St.) represented by Kirk Tousaw saw the board split in the two-two tie, resulting in the appeal being denied. The dispensary’s location to the nearby Alexander Academy being a sticking point for both sides. Another Green Room Society location (1440 East 57th Ave) had withdrawn its appeal before the meeting.

The Lime Life Society dispensary at 326 East Hastings St. had its appeal denied, while two other Lime Life locations at 45 West Broadway and 1167 Granville St. received an adjournment to have their appeal heard at a later date, as did West Coast Freepaw Society (2347 East Hastings St).

The next Board of Variance hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19.