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Lake Country rejects the Okanagan’s first retail cannabis store

The Okanagan will now wait until at least 2019 for its first retail cannabis store.

On Tuesday, Lake Country city council voted against a bylaw variance that would have paved the way for a “Starbuds” retail cannabis store to open in Turtle Bay Crossing plaza.

Drafted before legalization and the municipal election, the bylaw in question does not permit retail cannabis stores to operate within 400 metres of schools or daycares.

The proposed Starbuds location would been located 200m across the street from the New Beginnings Early Learning Centre, a daycare for three to four-year-olds.

As a result of its proximity, council voted 4-3 against the bylaw variance that would have permitted the store to operate in the same shopping mall as a liquor store.

“Ultimately the goal is to keep the stores away from kids and the daycares get thrown in there because they are similar to the schools,” said Lake country councillor Todd McKenzie, who voted to approve the cannabis store.

</who> Renderings depicting the interior of proposed Starbuds.

<who> Photo Credit: Contributed.

“However, in this case, there’s a liquor store in that area already and my personal belief is that you need to treat liquor stores and cannabis stores similar, so that's why I was supporting the variance.”

According to Mackenzie, the owners of the daycare also supported approving the store and even wrote a letter to the town saying they have no worries about toddlers being close to a cannabis shop.

The store's applicants will return to council chambers on Dec. 18th to speak about the variance with Lake Country councillors.

If approved, the Starbuds location would have been a first in the Okanagan and one of the first five stores in the province.

Kelowna city planners have finished collecting applications for possible cannabis stores, however, they have confirmed none will open their doors before spring 2019.

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