Will Greater Victoria's first government-run cannabis store be at Uptown?

The first government-run cannabis store in the capital region could be located at the Uptown shopping centre.

Saanich council unanimously voted Monday night to host a public hearing for the proposal.

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“I think that putting it inside the Uptown precinct is a good place, given the distance from all the schools,” said Coun. Colin Plant. “I will maintain an open mind when the public hearing comes, but I do think that this is something that should be coming to Saanich now that we have this legal, zone-viable enterprise.”

A government-run cannabis store is coming late to Greater Victoria, likely because several private stores have already been operating for many months. Saanich would be the sixth location on the Island for a government store. The stores are already open or about to open in Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Port Alberni and Nanaimo.

There are currently 16 government-run stores in B.C. and another nine planned.

The proposed Uptown location is in the upper floors in units E107 and E109, between Whole Foods and Steve Nash Fitness on Blanshard Street. The proposed hours are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cannabis retail policy requires any store to be at least 200 metres from any schools or community centres. For Uptown, the closest elementary school is 900 metres to the east. Colquitz Middle School is 1,130 metres to the southwest and Reynolds Secondary is 1,565 metres to the northeast, a council report said. There are no community centres within a 200-metre radius.

Initial consultations have met no resistance, according to Saanich.

A report to council on May 6 said the Saanich police and fire departments as well as the Mount View Colquitz Community Association indicated in written statements they have no objection.

The application for the store was mailed to 875 property owners and residents within 180 metres of Uptown, and to date no objections have been raised.

The landlord for an existing B.C. Cannabis store in Kamloops said the outlet has increased overall traffic in their mall. “We have received feedback from most of our tenants that B.C. Cannabis has been a welcome addition to the shopping centre and our community,” said Christoph Richter, vice-president of portfolio management at Northwest Properties.

“We have not experienced an increase in undesirable or criminal activities ... or received any complaints regarding cannabis odours originating from the tenant’s space.”

Security features at the government run stores include bollards at the front and rear, grills on all glass, locked cabinets and displays, holdup buttons for staff, burglar alarms, and video coverage of all areas.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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