Squamish city council voted to reverse their previous decision to prohibit ATMs within medical cannabis.

A council meeting in early June saw councillors debate removing the proposed ban on ATMs within dispensaries but a split vote saw the motion fail.

The debate was brought up again at a Regular Business Meeting, Jun. 21 at the request of mayor Patricia Heintzman.

“The mayor’s vote was absent from the prior meeting which resulted in a split Council vote, and therefore allowance for the ability to reconsider,” said Squamish communications manager Christina Moore, in an email.

Heintzman said the restrictions on dispensaries weren’t fair, considering ATMs aren’t barred from other businesses.

“We don’t not allow them to be in drug stores, pharmacies, liquor stores,” the mayor said. “It seems a little bit ridiculously punitive and they could, in theory, just put it inside. So, I just feel like it’s just a piece that we’re going to try to police that really isn’t necessarily.”

The mayor’s thoughts echoed statements given to council at the original meeting by dispensary owner and Cannabis Growers of Canada chairman Don Fauchon.

“The reason we have an ATM is because the banks will not allow us a point-of-sale machine, we can’t use debit, we can’t use credit, the only access our patients have is cash, so we are just providing the convenience for them,” Fauchon said.

Reopening the bylaws caused another round of debate by council, with councillor Karen Elliot saying that staff had drafted rules based on best practices from other areas that didn’t create any undue hardship and the restriction was fair.

Councillor Susan Chapelle said it wasn’t the city’s place to specifically restrict one type of business from having a cash machine on the premises.

“There’s no such thing as best practices for an ATM machine that I’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s not in our purvey to recommend what’s good or not good for businesses and, as the mayor has said, ATMs are allowed in many other businesses.”

Councillor Doug Race, who has opposed the entire proposed bylaw to allow for dispensaries in the city, once again spoke out against the regulations and called for patience as the federal government moved forward on legalization.

“I understand that there’s people on his council that would like us to be a progressive council, but there’s nothing progressive about making a bad decision,” he said. “We’re one small step away from actually adopting and turning it into law but we don’t have to take this step yet and, in my view, we should not be taking it until after such a time that it’s legalized and we are not endorsing trafficking.”

Moore said the bylaw received third reading Jun. 28 and the adoption of the changes will be considered at an upcoming agenda in July.