A new cannabis store is expected to open on Marine Drive, directly across the street from the White Rock Pier.
At its regular meeting Monday evening, White Rock council gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw that would allow Seed and Stone to open a cannabis retail store in the old Giraffe Restaurant building, located at 15053 Marine Dr.
Giraffe was a fixture on the beach from 1989 until it closed its doors in 2017. The building has been vacant ever since.
The business marks the second location for Seed and Stone, which has a head office located at the corner of 16 Avenue and 152 Street.
The business currently has a retail store in Chilliwack. Victoria recently approved two stores in its city, owner Vikram Sachdeva, who lives in Cloverdale, told Peace Arch News.
Monday, council approved a temporary use permit. The business will be allowed to reapply for the permit after three years.
“We’re very excited, very pleased that council made the decision to give us a temporary use permit that keeps us humble and keeps us focused to make sure that we follow up on all the promises that we made,” Sachdeva said.
Earlier this month, council held a public hearing on the cannabis store.
Concerns were raised about the location, the city’s image, impact of parking, people smoking on the beach or in the general area, increased traffic and congestion. People in favour of the application said it would be good for restaurants, tourism, would increase accessibility of a government-controlled supply and would “revitalize” the waterfront.
Council supported the store, with Couns. Scott Kristjanson and Erika Johanson opposed.
Johanson and Kristjanson told council they thought the location was wrong.
“I am supportive of a cannabis store on Marine Drive, but this seems like the wrong location,” Kristjanson said. “It’s right in front of our pier. It’s right in the heart of our jewel of White Rock. I just think it’s the wrong place.”
Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said making a decision on the cannabis store “is a hard one,” and that he “could easily go either way.”
“For me, the deciding factor in favour of it, and it’s very close, is the fact that businesses have come up saying they want it there.
“At a time of increasing unemployment in Canada, the ability to hire 10, 12, 15 more people at a decent-paying salary tips me just barely in favour of it,” Trevelyan said.
Sachdeva said prior to the approval process, Seed and Stone canvassed businesses along the waterfront and found there was “overwhelming support” for a cannabis retail store.
“They felt with COVID, the pier breaking down, the construction, it has all affected business in the area.
“Maybe a change of a different type of business coming in there will support that. I think they were excited about all of the positive traffic we’re going to bring,” Sachdeva said.
Foot traffic and congestion were raised as issues by some members of council.
“We intend to mitigate all of that by having multiple tills, having a process in place, having a security guard monitoring things. We want to work with the city, we want to be responsible, this is our home,” Sachdeva said.
Following the approval, Coun. Anthony Manning put forward a motion to ask Seed and Stone to allow its customers to carry “pagers.” Much like some restaurants, the pager would allow overflow customers to walk in the area without losing their place in line.
Manning’s motion was approved by council. Sachdeva said their plan is to open Seed and Stone in 90 days.