On Nov. 13, the Village of Clinton held a meeting to allow the public to address a request to establish a cannabis store at 1300 Cariboo Highway, a location locally known as the “Blue Barn”.
Council had received no written or verbal submissions on the subject, and after just six minutes of public commentary the hearing was ended. Fourteen members of the public were present, and four of them spoke up to voice their opinion.
Ted Pappas asked why the RCMP were not involved or present for the meeting. Council clarified that the public hearing was a forum for council to listen but not respond directly. “We’re not debating this,” said Mayor Susan Swan. “We’re not answering questions.”
Pappas stated that he does not think there is enough population locally to sustain a cannabis store, and asked if the community plans to rely solely on transient business.
“There are detriments to almost any business that’s set up and I wonder if the council and mayor have actually spoken with the RCMP about what their views are about a cannabis store opening up in Clinton and what their concerns are about us being on a highway and perhaps contributing to people being under the influence,” he said.
Pappas also raised concerns about potential aspects of crime associated with cannabis dispensaries in cities like Kamloops, suggesting that if such a business were to set up shop in Clinton, surrounding businesses might also be targeted.
“There’s a lot of aspects to having a cannabis store that need to be fully considered,” he concluded. “I’m not so sure that the trade-off, which is tax revenue, really is enough.”
Former Clinton councillor Wayne Marchant stood to express his support of the proposed store and argued that it could create employment in the community. He praised the requested location and emphasized the surplus of parking spaces.
Former Clinton mayor Robin Fennell also spoke up in support of the proposed business. “I’m in favour of this,” he said. “I’d like to be able to go down there and maybe there’s something that will help me.”
Resident Neil Clare was also in favour of the proposed store and called the location ideal, adding that the illegal marijuana trade has brought more “crime and chaos” than legalization.
The regular meeting began with no additions to the agenda and all Village councillors and members of staff in attendance.
Proceeding with the evening’s question period, Pappas directed inquiries to council regarding the Village’s Community Forest, which Mayor Swan said council had heard before. Pappas was adamant about his inquiry, though, stating that he does not believe the Village has had appropriate input in its agreement with the Community Forest.
“I still don’t think you have actually sought your own legal opinion of this matter,” he said.
Council approved two funding requests within the Village. Mayor Swan noted that the Clinton Annual Ball Committee’s early request for their annual event in May was setting the bar high for other organizations by applying for aid so far in advance. This observation was met with a response from a member of the gallery, who muttered that her own organization was told not to apply for such requests until the New Year.
Moving on to administrative reports, council approved the first, second, and third readings of the Fire Department Remuneration Bylaw. Council also voted to adopt the Village’s updated Travel Expense Policy, before the evening’s delegated speaker arrived, at which point the regular meeting came to a halt.
Falko Kadenbach of ABC Communications was there to update the community on the development of fibre optic high-speed internet access, informing council that at this time, full fibre optic access through ABC Communications is not an option for Clinton.
“We ran into a couple of issues,” said Kadenbach, who explained that a lot of the community’s current infrastructure is old and requires updates that ultimately crushed the project’s initial business model.
“We have a lot of infrastructure updates that need to happen in order for the fibre to be strung,” said Kadenbach, confirming that ABC can’t proceed as planned. “That’s the bad news.”
Instead, he proposed LTE as a solution, noting that it sets the current standard in wireless technology.
ABC’s efforts to bring high-speed internet to Clinton are funded by the Province, and the company needs the community’s endorsement in order to proceed with their re-examined business model, which would phase out old technology to employ a mix of fibre and millimetre wave.
ABC currently serves 180 or so customers in the community and had about 80 sign-ups for the proposed fibre optic service they promised customers back in early spring.
Kadenbach clarified that if Clinton chooses not to take advantage of the funds available for this project, the alternative would be to halt efforts all together.
“I’m going to suggest that prices would not change,” he said, noting that there was no obligation to commit to service for those who completed the original sign-up, which proposed full fibre optic access. “If you’re an existing customer, there’s no cost.” He also clarified that costs were twice as high to install the proposed technology below ground, so that wasn’t an option.
When comments from the public were allowed, some residents voiced their complaints about the community’s current internet service, citing slow speeds and user congestion. Council did not make a decision on the altered proposal from ABC, but will review the presentation during an upcoming council meeting.
Council returned to administrative reports, picking up on the review of the proposed Community Forest Agreement.
Coun. Christine Rivett made a motion that the Village sign the proposed agreement, but CAO Tom Dall said that can happen during the next council meeting. Coun. David Park injected a few concerns at this point, stating that he believed the proposed agreement leaves room for improvement.
In regards to recommendation three on the proposed review, council agreed that there would be no formal charge for the storage of Community Forest equipment in the future. The agreement was ultimately tabled for further discussion at a later meeting.
Finally, council returned to the evening’s hot topic and voted to approve the proposed cannabis store to be located at 1300 Cariboo Highway, Clinton. The proposed establishment, “Cynders”, was approved, and meets the community’s amended zoning bylaws.
The decision to approve the cannabis store was supported by most members of council wholeheartedly, with the exception of Coun. Sandi Burrage, who raised a few concerns about the proposed location’s close proximity to David Stoddart School.
“It was really splitting hairs with the distance to the school. That’s our bad side of town,” she added, referencing the south entrance of the Village where the store would set up shop, directly off Highway 97.
Burrage noted that council should be aware that anyone who might want to open a day care or pre-school in the area cannot do so now, as such a business is required to be 600 metres away from an operating cannabis store. She also observed that, according to Google Maps, the distance between the school and the proposed store is actually less than the required 600 metres,. but council replied that such information was incorrect and that the required guidelines for the business were met.
After Coun. Park made a successful motion to approve the location of the cannabis store, council moved on to approve the Village office’s Christmas office closures, celebrations, and staff gift certificates. Council also formalized their Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy and approved the Village’s Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw.
The 2020 council meeting schedule was released and subsequently approved, with two meetings exempted on Nov. 11 and Dec. 23, 2020.
Council also received the 2019 Q3 Operating Budget Performance Report for information from Deputy Financial Officer Mandy McKague.
Finally, council reviewed and approved the Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan for the community, before proceeding with the evening’s usual council reports.
As always, council agendas are available for public access online at Clinton’s website (https://village.clinton.bc.ca/) or in person at the Village Office.