city hall

Vancouver Board of Variance Approves Two More Appeals

Two more Vancouver medical dispensaries had their business license application rejections overturned last night at a Board of Variance meeting.

Both the BC Compassion Club Society (2991 Commercial Dr) and Chronic Hub Social Club Society (3133 W Broadway) received permission from the board to continue with their business license applications with the city.

At the first of four hearings at the meeting, the BC Compassion Club filled the room with supporters, including patients, the business community as well as the nearby Stratford Hall school that the city found was within 300 metres of the operation.

Representative for the club, lawyer John Conroy said the school‘s support seemed to be the critical factor in the board’s decision.

“I think the club itself has done great work with all the people in the community over the years,” Conroy said. “They have been respectful, acted reasonably, acted to correct things if there was a problem, and worked to act with the city and the police the whole time and try to be accepted as legitimate and I think have demonstrated that this can occur on a reasonable basis.”

Conroy said just because one variation had been granted doesn’t mean it has to be done for every single one and that unique circumstances and hardships need to be looked at in each case.

The other successful appellant, Chronic Hub Social Club Society, argued that the city hadn’t listed all spaces considered a community centre, which are required to also be at least 300 metres from cannabis businesses.

Representative Ian Dawkins said the nearby St. James Community Square wasn’t noted in the city’s public listing of community centres, and, until it was purchased by the city in February, was an independent community rental hall.

Vancouver development services assistant director John Greer, representing the city at the meeting, said the space is obviously a community centre and that that information is available to anyone that comes to speak with the city at the building’s information desk.

The vote came down to a tie with one board member absent, and one abstaining, broken in favour of the appeal by chair Gilbert Tan.

Dawkins said he had no idea how the decision would come down until the final vote and that he sees the board beginning to find their footing on the dispensary issue.

“There’s a role for them to play in offering variances here, and that it’s an important thing that they’re doing because, frankly, the city has abandoned their responsibility on this file,” said Dawkins. “Unless you’re a lands lawyer, I don’t think anyone would have known the ins and outs of where to find that information and frankly, for the city to say, “we internally define it as a community centre” — that’s unacceptable.”

Divine Ventures (8640 Granville St) was rejected in its appeal, as was Kerrisdale Therapeutic Healing Society (1012 SW Marine Dr) which had been initially refused a business license, not due to it’s vicinity to schools or community centres, but its location in an area zoned for industrial and not retail.

Kerrisdale Therapeutic Healing Society owner Rick Kendell was looking for an extension on the shut down order for the dispensary while he looks to have the building he operates out of rezoned.

“They said they didn’t want to give us a retail license in an industrial area, even though there’s retail all around us,” Kendell said. “In the bylaws that they’ve been following, there’s nothing in it about industrial. This board can’t cover it, now we have to go to the planning department.”

Kendell said he hoped that an injunction could be placed on shutting his operation down while the rezoning occurs, a process that could take six to 18 months.

With four appeals now approved by the Board of Variance, Dawkins said the board is opening itself up to questions on their decision making process, with dispensaries being approved to proceed that have distance issues similar to other appellants who were rejected.

“I’m going to sign an affidavit with a lawyer filing a judicial review of a previous application,” Dawkins said. “That’s not the only judicial review and that is not the only lawyer, so that tells you everything you need to know about the city’s process.”

The next Board of Variance meeting is scheduled for May 4.