BY MARCUS DAY
Once a shop, then a Chinese restaurant, and until a few weeks ago a bakery and deli. Now 113 Harder Street is set for another life … as a cannabis retail store.
It is the second attempt to open a pot outlet in Maple Creek. The first one, at 32 Pacific Avenue, the site of the former Star Café, collapsed after businessman Ian R J Laing withdrew his application when he learned it would be rejected by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
It is believed those behind the new cannabis venture were runners-up for the Pacific Avenue application. They are said to come from Calgary.
At Tuesday’s Maple Creek Town Council meeting – held by Zoom video conferencing – a development application for discretionary use of 113 Harder Street was approved, despite a question raised over its proximity to the Jasper Hotel and a daycare centre.
The approval removes a potential obstacle to the cannabis store going ahead.
Diane Moss, Chief Administrative Officer, said the Harder Street location was covered by the zoning bylaw previously approved for the Star Café site. Both addresses were in the commercial core.
The issue of discretionary use had already been added to the zoning, said Moss. This meant there was no need to go through the whole regulatory process again, including a public meeting, even though there had been one letter of objection.
Moss added that the owners wished to meet Council once the COVID-19 crisis had eased. She believed they would be taking possession of the building on April 23.
The letter of objection had come from Cheryce Foxcroft and Tyler Drever at 204 Harder Street.
It said: “We object to the use of #113 Harder Street as a location for a cannabis retail store. The reason for the objection is 1. We do not want to live across the street from a dope shop and 2. the resale value of our house.
Personally, as a family looking to purchase a new home, I would NOT even consider a house that resided across the street from a store like this.
“If this gets pushed through despite objection, we will be expecting property taxes to be lowered to reflect the loss of income this would have on the resale of our home.”
Council discussion on the development application for discretionary use was divided into two sections.
In the first, Councillor Michael Morrow wondered whether 113 Harder Street was far enough away from a liquor establishment. He said that in other towns a cannabis store had to be a certain distance from liquor businesses.
Moss asked Councillors whether they wanted to table the matter.
Councillor Cara Teichroeb said there was not only a liquor store near the proposed pot store, but also a daycare only a block away.
“We need to check all the boxes,” she said.
Councillor Jill Roy said: “We need to know whether we are too close to the Jasper.”
Councillor Barry Elderkin wondered whether the sale of the building was subject to it becoming a cannabis store.
At this stage, Council decided to take a five-minute break to consider the issue and research current rules on cannabis store locations.
When the meeting reconvened, Councillors agreed to approve the application.
Councillor Morrow said he had found nothing in the Cannabis Act to help with the discussion.
“I’m good to move forward,” he said. “If there is a problem the SLGA will tell them (the owners).”
He added that cannabis stores in other communities like Saskatoon and Regina had appeared very “respectable and quiet.”
Councillors Ellaine Hawrylak and Barry Elderkin said they had no problem with proceeding.
Councillor Roy agreed, pointing out her position would be different had there been more than one objection.
“I’m fine with going forward. I think it’s a better location than the previous one.”
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, said 113 Harder Street would offer ample parking.
She believed that the new owners would have dotted their Is and crossed their Ts before buying the building.
“I don’t have a problem with voting for this.”
Councillor Shelley Drever said everyone knew that cannabis was a legal substance now like alcohol.
“We should go ahead and see where the next step takes us,” she said.
Councillor Teichroeb supported allowing the application. However, she had difficulty with telling ratepayers who opposed the cannabis store that they didn’t have a voice in the issue.
McKenzie disagreed that ratepayers wouldn’t have a voice, saying the letter of objection would be public knowledge.