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Vancouver Board of Variance Member Steps Down From Dispensary Appeals

Vancouver Board of Variance member George Chow has recused himself from all future medical dispensary related appeals due to his recent appointment to the federal government’s legalization task force.

At last night’s Board of Variance meeting, Chow said he’ll still be sitting on the board for all non-dispensary related matters and will return to vote on them only when the task force’s work is completed.

Non-voting member Louis Ng said Chow declared that he has a conflict to vote on the MMRU appeals due to the task force appointment.

“This appointment is for several months, and during this period Mr. Chow will not be voting on the MMRU appeals, however he will be voting on all other non-related MMRU appeals,” Ng wrote, in an email.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who was at the board meeting representing Sea to Sky Dispensary, Tweeted that Chow’s absence going forward was “a big loss for the BOV.”

“Just learnt that BOV member George Chow has recused himself due to Federal Task Force membership,” lawyer Lawyer Robert Laurie wrote on Facebook. “Basically, if this was baseball, Mr. Chow is now out for the season.

“That leaves a four member board instead of five. No deadlocks. Our work just got more difficult.”

Ng said that, as Chow is still a board member, the city is not required to appoint another.

“The Vancouver Charter states – when there is a tie vote, then the appeal is disallowed,” said Ng. “A majority is required for an appeal to be approved/allowed.”

Both Remedy Wellness Society (1080 Mainland) and Heritage Dispensary Clinic Society DBA Healing Tree (527 E Hastings) had their appeals approved by the board last night, while a second location of Heritage (11 West Broadway) was denied.

The Healing Tree (8188 Champlain Crescent) was told that its location was outside of the city’s CD-1 zoning designation where medical marijuana-related use operations are permitted and had its appeal dismissed.

Tousaw’s client Sea To Sky Medical Cannabis Dispensary (6636 Fraser St) had its appeal adjourned until Nov. 30 by the board as the location is currently going through a process of de-clustering with other dispensaries in the area.

As the federal task force’s legalization report is due to be presented to the government by November, Chow will have returned at this point and will be present for the appeal.

The Board’s next scheduled hearing on dispensary appeals in Jul. 27.