The province’s Liquor Distribution Branch has withdrawn its application to open a retail marijuana store in Cowichan Commons.
The Municipality of North Cowichan had already given the application to open a 2,000 square-foot government-operated retail cannabis store at the shopping centre three readings and it was up for consideration for final adoption.
But in a letter that is part of North Cowichan council’s agenda for its meeting on Nov. 6, the LDB’s Kerri Lore said the branch has appreciated the opportunity to work with the municipality to bring its application to this point, but the board decided to pull it from the process.
“We are grateful to staff in the planning department for their assistance in helping us to navigate the municipality’s process, as well as the time and consideration of council to date,” the letter from Lore, the LDB’s director of policy and corporate strategic services, said.
Costa Canna, a partnership led by the Cowichan Tribes, has also been making its way through North Cowichan’s application process to open a retail marijuana store in another part of the Cowichan Commons.
Costa Canna opened the Cowichan Valley’s first retail pot store in Duncan Mall last month and has ambitious plans to open more across the region and province.
But Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour made it clear at the Duncan Mall store’s grand opening that if the LBD store was to open in Cowichan Commons, Costa Canna would withdraw its application.
“If the government store is approved, we will pull out,” Seymour said at the time.
“We can’t compete with a government store because they control the supply and set the prices and we have to abide by them. If [North Cowichan’s] council approves that store, we will look for another location, probably within our own territory.”
Asked if the protest against its plans for a store in Cowichan Commons was a factor in the decision to withdraw the application, the LBD’s manager of communications Viviana Zanocco would only say in an email that as the sole wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in the province, the LDB works closely with private retailers — and will continue to do so — to provide the best possible service while operating on an equal playing field.
“We are eager to see additional licensed private stores enter the marketplace so we can serve them as our customers,” Zanocco said.
“We remain committed to a responsible and efficient roll out of our network of BC Cannabis Stores in communities across the province to ensure all British Columbians have access to safe, regulated product, as part of government’s mandate of eliminating the illicit market.”