A proposed Prince George dispensary was rejected by the city due to location issues, Sept. 28.

The online dispensary, which would have been the city’s first, had been proposed by applicant John Stiles to occupy a building in the downtown area.

Stiles said he was extremely surprised and disappointed with council’s decision.

“I really thought council was a little more open and forward thinking,” Stiles said. “I’m always surprised by the reaction in the community and members of the council to this type of operation and proposal.”

Due to bylaws that require cannabis operations in the city be located in industrial areas, city planner Mandy Stanker said staff advised council to vote against the Prince George dispensary.

Staff said the proposed site is close to high-traffic, residential and commercial areas and not suitable for a dispensary.

“It’s getting to be a very busy intersection,” said Stanker. 

As one of the neighbourhood businesses near the proposed site, Salvation Army Capt. Neil Wilkinson spoke out against the application as their business is currently having security problems that he felt wouldn’t be conducive to a cannabis operation.

“Our concern is that if we are having substantial struggles with maintaining secure facilities after hours, that it’s reasonable to think there are other businesses that may have security issues when it comes to chain-link fencing as well,” Wilkinson said.

Stiles said his business wouldn’t have fit in the city’s industrial area as it isn’t a grow operation. The building would have been used to store cannabis, but orders would only be completed online and delivered to medical patients by courier.

“We can’t invite people in off the street to conduct business. There’s no walk-ins or browsers, and no [publicity] placards,” Stiles told council, in March.

Stiles said it has been an “onerous process” to find a location in the city due to the perception of cannabis operations.

The city could have approved the application and ignored its own rules for cannabis operations, but Councillor Garth Frizzell said that could set an unwelcome precedent.

“When we do that, I look for a stronger rationale than I saw tonight in this case,” Frizzell said.

Councillors Jillian Merrick and Terri McConnachie voted in favour of the application.

Stiles said he will now reevaluate his options for opening the Prince George dispensary.