Second-story pot shop snuffed out

Invermere marijuana shop must revisit site proposal

Richard Matthews said he and his co-owners at Ullr Bar hoped to open a recreational pot shop and that it was “crazy frustrating” to learn that their application was being declined.

Mayor Al Miller said there was “a lot of discussion” at the council meeting on Tuesday, November 13th and that “council really wasn’t in favour” of allowing a pot shop to operate in a second-floor location at Parkside Place across from the conveniently-named Pothole Park.

While the location is outside the downtown area the District wanted to keep off limits from marijuana shops and is zoned for residential and commercial use, Mr. Miller said it was clear that council “wouldn’t put through a favourable answer for them unless they changed locations.”

He said the second floor of Parkside Place “is basically residential” and that parking and access were points of concern.

“Rather than just simply saying no… we deferred (making a decision) for two weeks in order to be able to actually talk to the applicant and see if they could find another location to write up for their application,” Mr. Miller said.

It may have seemed like a considerate idea but that’s not how the process works. Mr. Matthews has since learned that he will have to start “from ground zero” and send in a new application if he wants to try again.

Mr. Miller said council also wanted to ensure Mr. Matthews and his business partners didn’t lose their $7,500 application fee.

“We just wanted to save a local business person that aggravation,” he said.

Staff later confirmed that Mr. Matthews would receive a refund from the province.

Even so, Mr. Matthews and his team won’t get back the time they put into creating the detailed security and floor plans specific to their proposed location that were required for their application. They’ve also lost the competitive advantage of being among the first in line to start a Valley pot shop.

“We applied the first day that you could legally,” Mr. Matthews said. “We were being really proactive… to get our foot in the door and be ahead in the game.”

The provincial application process required a secured lease on a commercial space, but he and his partners aren’t on the hook to pay for an empty shop. Rather than risk signing a lease without first having a business licence in hand – like another pot-shop applicant Mr. Matthews knows – they chose to apply for a permit for a location they already owned.

He said he and his Ullr Bar co-owners are passionate about being positive forces in the community and about bringing more fun and entertainment to the Valley.

“Ideally do we still have that dream of opening our own shop? Sure we do,” he said. “We have to sit down and decide what to do next.”

Ullr Bar is currently closed for renovations and will reopen on Friday, November 23rd with new menus and a new look. Mr. Matthews is proud to announce that Ullr Bar will be showing the Columbia Valley Rockies’ away games so fans can gather to cheer for the team.

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