New West showing Burnaby how it's done with cannabis stores

Chris Campbell

If you want to know how Burnaby measures up to other cities when it comes to cannabis stores, just look next door to New West.

The City of New Westminster is so far ahead of Burnaby on this file, despite pot now being legal in this country, it’s embarrassing.

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Burnaby has basically said they won’t even entertain any private stores until a government pot store is approved (and they will only allow a maximum of four government stores despite the city having a population of 250,000). So maybe a couple of stores will be approved in the coming years for one of the largest cities in the province.

And, once again, I remind you that pot is now legal in this country. What is the hold up?

Meanwhile, tiny little New West has shown it is taking a measured and sophisticated approach to the approvals process to meet a clear demand.

New West considered 22 potential locations for cannabis retailers and whittled that list down to five potential stores this week.

Between Oct. 24 and Dec. 5, the city received rezoning and business licence applications for cannabis retail stores. Following an evaluation process, staff recommended five applications for retail cannabis stores. City staff evaluated all of the applications using a checklist that includes items related to: location and land use; business operations, nuisance and security; and esthetics (such as signage, windows and gates).

Most interesting is that New West council actually turned down a staff recommendation for a government-run pot store because the majority didn’t think the application was good enough to meet their standards.

Burnaby has put all its pot eggs into the government basket, but New West has found that the government application was underwhelming. It’s a stark contrast between cities. New West has also said this is just the first set of approvals and that more will follow.

Burnaby is way behind in this process and needs to get moving. Pot is legal, just like alcohol. There are dozens of places selling booze, but none selling pot in our city.

The city needs to stop clutching its pearls and expedite things.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44

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