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Victoria urged to get tough on pot dispensaries ahead of cou

by papapuff » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:35 am

Times Colonist

Cannabis use a health issue, not a business one, mayor says


JULY 21, 2017

Lounges that permit people to use cannabis on site will continue to be high-priority enforcement areas under city regulations, says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

“I think we do need a place for the safe consumption of cannabis and I hope that the federal government and the provincial government will create that in their regulatory regime,” Helps said Thursday during discussion of enforcement efforts. “But right now, it’s not part of our business licence process and nor do I think it should be.

“I think that consumption is a health issue. It’s not a business issue and it shouldn’t be privatized,” she said.

Consumption on premises is not permitted under the city cannabis regulation bylaw. In the past nine months the city has levied $4,000 in fines for allowing consumption on site, city clerk Chris Coates said.

The smoking lounges, along with four retailers who have not applied for rezoning and business licensing, are the city’s highest priority for enforcement, Coates said. Applications for court injunctions with the B.C. Supreme Court against operators that continue to flout regulations are being finalized.

Helps said the city “has really taken a risk and has been progressive” with its efforts to regulate cannabis sales in advance of federal regulations, so those who are not following the city’s rules “should be enforced against.”

In an interview, Helps said there’s no question that consumption regulation is a matter for senior governments. “Safe consumption services, A) are not a business and B) it’s a health issue.” Like safe consumption sites for injection drug use, it’s an issue for the Ministry of Health, she said.

“All of those things — the regulation of edibles, the regulation of consumption, the access to consumption — all of that is not a zoning issue, and it’s definitely not a business licence issue.”

In total, more than $20,000 worth of fines have been levied in connection with the city’s new cannabis regulations, Coates said in his report, including:

• 15 $1,000 fines for operating without a licence

• eight $500 fines for allowing consumption

• one $250 fine for displaying prohibited signs

• one $500 fine for failing to maintain air filtration

• one $250 fine for operating outside of permitted hours

• one $500 fine for failure to provide required staff

In his report to councillors, Coates said enforcement has been proactive, initially focusing on education of the operators about the regulations and helping them navigate the rezoning process.

Only four of the 35 cannabis dispensaries operating in the city have not applied for rezoning or a business licence. They are: Absolute Medicinal, 2520 Turner St.; Beard Brothers Society, 849 Fort St.; Cleanleaf Dispensary, 1056 North Park St.; and Nature’s Botanicals, 1011 Johnson St.

Coates said that enforcement of the cannabis regulations is taking a bigger toll than expected and exceeding the estimated 35 hours a week of staff time.

Helps said she’s considering introducing an amendment to the city’s bylaw that would prohibit the sale of cannabis to persons under the age of 25, but first wants to do more research.
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by papapuff » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am


Victoria marijuana dispensary ordered to shut down, city says too close to school

Posted By: Calvin Toon: July 26, 2017In: CHEK, News, Top Stories


Staff at a Victoria marijuana dispensary say they’re being treated unfairly by the city after they were told they can no longer operate because they’re too close to a school. Calvin To reports.

Staff at Green Dragon Medicinal Society in Victoria say they're being treated unfairly by the city after they were told they can no longer operate because they're too close to a school.

Board member Robert Bradbury says they've received six fines of $1,000 each since the city denied its rezoning application last month.

According to Bradbury, the store on Herald Street in downtown Victoria is 159 metres in a straight line from the Victoria Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street, a distance which is less than the 200 metres indicated in the city's rezoning policy.

"If the city is concerned about children, that's fine. We have no issue around the morality of that. But then why do we have liquor sales immediately next door at the restaurant?" Bradbury said.

The Victoria Chinese Public School has been a part of Victoria since the early 1900s and currently offers language classes for children kindergarten to high school age as well as adults.

Bradbury showed CHEK News an email he received from the Ministry of Education indicating that the Victoria Chinese Public School is "not a BC certified independent school."

He said that's the reason his store should be allowed to stay open.

But the city disagrees.

Chris Coates, city clerk for the City of Victoria, said the policy allows for council to decided what is appropriate.

"The primary reason around the separation from schools was to keep people under the age of 18 at a distance from these types of facilities," Coates said.

According to Coates, the city could take court action against Green Dragon if it continues to operate, and that its decision to deny the rezoning application is consistent with existing bylaws regarding cannabis retailers.

Bradbury says he has no problems with the school itself, and believes the city is singling out Green Dragon because it sells cannabis products.

"Council arbitrarily deciding what's a school? That's not good public policy, that's not good governance," he said. "And that should be a concern for any business in the city."
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by papapuff » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:59 am

Oak Bay News

Saanich in no hurry to open doors to pot shops

As Canada moves towards the legalization of marijuana, Saanich takes a wait-and-see approach in enforcing existing prohibition

WOLF DEPNER Sat Aug 5th, 2017


As the City of Victoria continues to refine its policy around marijuana dispensaries, Saanich has no immediate plans to allow such enterprises as legalization approaches.

“Operation of a storefront cannabis retail business is contrary to federal law,” said Kelsie McLeod, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich. “Saanich works to ensure that our processes align with federal marijuana legislation.”

Federal legislation also prohibits the cultivation of marijuana unless the business has received zoning for such use and possesses a valid medical marijuana growing licence from Health Canada.

Saanich has granted one business – Emerald Health Botanicals located at 101-4226 Commerce Circle – a business licence to grow medical marijuana following a rezoning and public consultation process.

“It is also important to note that this business holds a valid federal licence and does not sell marijuana products from a storefront,” said McLeod.

She made these comments as the clock towards the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug for adults ticks down. The federal government has promised to legalize marijuana by July 1, 2018 after having campaigned on the promise in October 2015.

“Saanich is aware of possible changes to federal legislation that could take effect in July 2018,” she said. “Staff will continue to monitor federal changes and note any potential impacts for [council] to consider.”

If this sounds straight forward, it has been anything but. While Ottawa controls the legislation that would legalize and control the sale and consumption of recreational cannabis, all governments bear the burdens of legalization without necessarily reaping its financial benefits.

While Ottawa is responsible for controlling production, age standards and impairment penalties, provincial governments will have the ability to regulate distribution systems (as is the case with alcohol). Provincial governments also possess the power to determine municipal rules and regulations around licensing, distribution, consumption and health and safety standards, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) said in a position statement.

“These local roles could range from updating zoning bylaws to enforcing new impaired driving laws, and potentially much more,” it read.

Municipalities appear especially concerned that federal legislation might saddle them with “unsustainable financial or operational burdens” and municipal leaders across Canada have joined provincial leaders in expressing concerns about achieving legalization within the timeframe set by the federal government. Manitoba’s Premier Brian Pallister last month called on the federal government to delay implementation for a whole year until July 1, 2019. Municipal leaders have also called on the federal government to share some of the revenues from the legalization of pot to help offset any additional costs.

In short, much work remains across the country, and Greater Victoria offers itself as a microcosm.

All dispensaries and compassion clubs in the Greater Victoria area operate outside existing federal rules governing the production of non-medicinal marijuana. In other words, they are illegal. But this reality has not stopped their proliferation in the City of Victoria, whose political leadership believes that they can fit into any future regulatory framework.

However, neighbouring communities including Saanich have been less tolerant. While Saanich has received about a dozen inquiries from individuals interested in operating medical marijuana cultivation or storefront cannabis retail businesses, staff have weeded them out early in the process.

“Before an official application is received, interested parties speak with a contact in the planning department who outlines requirements [such as federal licensing and rezoning] and process,” said McLeod. “Prospective businesses who do not meet initial requirements do not move on to submit an official business application.”

Others have been daring, with the repercussions to show for them. Earlier this year, RCMP raided Langford’s first and only pot shop not once but twice within a month. Langford Mayor Stew Young could not have sounded more resolute in his opposition to free-standing dispensaries, heaping plenty of blame on the federal government. Langford has also taken steps to control the location of future dispensaries.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the apparent laissez-faire attitude that has prevailed for the most part in Victoria, where pot shops can achieve compliance by applying for both a rezoning and business licence. While Victoria will not issue a business licence until it has approved rezoning, cannabis retailers may continue to operate as they work towards rezoning, an approach that has left some of more than 30 dispensaries outside the zoning requirements, others without a business licence.

This group includes Burnside Weed Dispensary, located at 3175 Harriet Rd. While inside Victoria’s municipal boundaries, its location near the Saanich border gives Saanich residents easy access to its products and services. In fact, the dispensary says on its website that “it serves all the local communities of Victoria BC. This includes Saanich, Sooke, Colwood, Langford and Oak Bay.”

The Saanich News contacted Mayor Richard Atwell around the issue but did not receive a reply following several calls. Rosetta Duncan, the owner of Burnside Weed Dispensary, said in an email that she “would much appreciate an opportunity to share with you our mission and goals and perhaps with your skills you can help to facilitate those objectives in a progressive manner.”

Several follow-up calls, however, were left unanswered. The Saanich News also contacted the dispensary days prior to shooting the video that accompanies this story online.
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by papapuff » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:47 pm

Medicinal marijuana clubs gain additional hearing from Victoria council

One applicant rejected over minimum distance requirements

LAUREN BOOTHBYMon Aug 14th, 2017

The latest cannabis dispensary rezoning applications caused a stir in council chambers last week.

While the legality of selling marijuana remains legally murky, council has continued permitting the retail sale of cannabis and considered three applications from existing operators Thursday. While one was quickly denied because of minimum distance requirements, the longstanding Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club drew special attention.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who supported a successful motion to send its application to public hearing, said the Cannabis Buyers Club warranted further consideration.

“Although it seems new to many people, there have been people in our community that have been fighting hard for the opportunity to [provide] medicinal marijuana for many, many years, and this is one of the compassion clubs that have been doing this kind of work,” she said.

While the dispensary has been fighting for the legal right to sell prescribed marijuana since long before the new wave of dispensaries opened up, city staff recommended denying the application because Cannabis Buyers Club violates the new requirement for outlets to be at least 400 metres from another dispensary.

Coun. Geoff Young opposed the application, as he has done with every other. He proposed turning it down and re-considering council’s approach to approving these types of businesses.

“At this meeting, without debate, we accepted a staff recommendation to turn down a cannabis dispensary application because of our policy about the distance of other dispensaries. We now are proposing to send this one on to possible approval,” he said. “At the same meeting, we stick with the policy and then we change it, because of the characteristics of the operator who happens to be renting the space that we’re rezoning.”

On this note, Mayor Lisa Helps agreed with Young and reminded council that they cannot legally consider who is renting the space when a property is designed for rezoning.

At this point the City of Victoria cannot legally distinguish between “compassion clubs” and operators simply involved in the retail sale of cannabis. The City of Vancouver, however, has been granted special permission to do so by the province.

The dispensary application rejected Thursday was the Shady Mountain Health and Wellness Society, currently operating as Shadow Mountain at 543 Herald St. Applications for the Cannabis Buyers Club and the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, another longstanding medicinal marijuana provider in the city, were forwarded to public hearing.
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by papapuff » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:32 am

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by papapuff » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:06 pm

Pot shot owner suing the City of Victoria

Posted By: Isabelle Raghemon: September 17, 2017In: CHEK, News


as isabelle raghem tells us, he says he's being treated unfairly, and is ready to fight in court.

Kyle Cheyne grows just over a hundred cannabis plants in Sooke to supply some of the marijuana businesses he runs on Vancouver Island, including Terp City Lounge In Victoria.

"A lounge is a place you simply come pay a cover five dollars, four dollars and use your medicine in that space," explains the founder.

It's also the business at the centre of a battle with the city as Mayor Lisa Helps seeks an injunction to shut it down.

"Most dispensaries have been compliant, most dispensaries have applied for business license and rezoning and this one has not and shows not intention in doing so so we're taking them to court," said the Mayor of Victoria Saturday.

But Terp City's owner is fighting back.

"She's trying to put us in the category as dispensaries and we're not a dispensary and we can't apply for anything," said Cheyne Sunday,"she's trying to bend everything right now by saying we're not complying because there's no regulation for lounges."

He's now in the process of suing the city for trying to shut them down. He says there simply aren't licenses or applications available for his type of business.

"We need to get lounge regulation into place, it's not like this is not gonna be a problem in the future. There's gonna be more lounges challenging this," said Cheyne.

He insists lounges are needed in the city.

"These people can't consume at home, they can't consume in their buildings, like they can't consume anywhere really, and if you're gonna legalize cannabis, we have bars, we have clubs, we have all these different places that people can come and actually consume something that can kill you."

It's not the only case he's building against the city. He will also be taking them to court in regards to his dispensary called Leaf Compassion on Yates Street for which an application was denied.

"We're gonna be be suing them for, you know, unlawfully judging us and denying us for rezoning. We followed absolutely everything."

The Mayor tells Chek this will be the first time the city has taken a pot shop to court, but won't be the last.

Cheyne says he's not going down without a fight.
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by papapuff » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:41 am

Some Victoria dispensaries denied rezoning choose to face fines rather than close down

Posted By: Keith Vasson: September 18, 2017

As the City of Victoria continues to process applications under its new rules designed to limit the number of storefront marijuana sellers, some dispensary owners who have been denied their rezoning bids say they will continue to stay open and face fines until they’re forced to close their doors.

Leaf Compassion Society owner Kyle Cheyne operates several marijuana dispensaries on Vancouver Island. He says he is still “trying wrap [his] mind around” the city’s decision to deny his application for his store at 950 Yates Street, but so far the store remains open despite visits from city bylaw officers.

“We’ve been fined twice,” he said. “We’ve been fined once approximately a week after we got denied a rezoning, then they came back a second time, I think that was a week or so after.

So, it’s been about a week and a half without getting fined.”

Cheyne’s store is one of seven marijuana sellers who have had their rezoning applications denied since the city approved its regulatory framework for marijuana storefronts in July 2016. Four other storefronts cancelled their applications.

All told, the city says it has received 37 rezoning applications. So far just six have been approved, and four of those retailers have also been granted business licences, while 20 businesses are still waiting for a decision.

Councillor Marianne Alto says the city isn’t turning a blind eye to its bylaws being ignored, and may soon step up enforcement efforts.

“If an applicant is denied their rezoning application, then they are instructed immediately to cease operations,” said city councillor Marianne Alto.

“There is a short period of time when they are allowed to get their affairs in order, but very quickly after that, the city will start issuing fines and at a certain point, the fines become, obviously, not effective, and so then we have an option to go through the court system.”
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by papapuff » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:58 pm

B.C. Supreme Court orders Langford marijuana dispensary to close permanently

Posted By: Alexa Huffmanon: September 21, 2017

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered a Langford marijuana dispensary to permanently shut its doors.

In her ruling that approved an order permanently shutting the Green Tree Medical Dispensary, Justice Adair found the sale of marijuana contravened a zoning bylaw.

The judge also found the Green Tree Medical Dispensary on Granderson Road had contravened a city business bylaw by carrying on a commercial undertaking without a business licence, posting signs to advertise its business and operating a business for the purpose of selling or storing hemp or hemp-related products within a three-mile (4.8-kilometre) radius from the grounds of an elementary school, junior secondary school or high school.

According to the ruling, the marijuana dispensary contravened two other bylaws by undertaking or permitting work on the property and by erecting signs advertising the business operations without having obtained a sign permit.

The order stops the sale and distribution of marijuana by the dispensary in the city. It also states the dispensary will compensate the City of Langford for any claim or action arising out of the Green Tree’s marijuana dispensary business conducted on the property between Jan. 1 and March 31.

The marijuana dispensary was raided twice earlier this year. The shop, which was Langford’s first and only marijuana dispensary, was shut down by police on Jan. 17, just a day after opening. Then in February, police once again shut down Langford’s first and only pot shop. They also arrested two people.

The City of Langford filed a civil injunction to shut down the dispensary.

The ruling says the Green Tree has been ordered to pay $1,200 in fines and $5,000 in legal costs to the City of Langford. Green Tree has five days to remove all signage and product from the site.
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by papapuff » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:32 am

Times Colonist

Haze over pot shops drifts into courts


SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

Court battles are brewing in B.C. municipalities over cannabis dispensaries amid a hazy regulatory landscape.

The City of Victoria, the only municipality in Greater Victoria to regulate cannabis businesses, is facing a lawsuit by one business fighting to stay open and is taking another business to court to shut it down.

The City of Langford’s hard line against pot shops played out in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, with the municipality successfully keeping a dispensary shuttered.

In Vancouver, which pioneered the regulatory regime for dispensaries, the city has 53 injunctions against businesses that are breaking the rules and is facing $1 million in unpaid fines.

Langford and Green Tree Medical Dispensary reached a settlement that requires the dispensary to pay $1,200 in fines and pay Langford’s $5,000 legal bill.

The dispensary, which is currently closed, must close permanently. The store on Granderson Road opened on Jan. 16 and was shut down by West Shore RCMP a day later. It reopened in February but faced heavy scrutiny from bylaw officers who had the power to issue a $200-a-day fine for operating without a business licence. The business has five days to remove all signs and product from the store.

The federal government has said it plans to legalize marijuana in the summer of 2018, but few details have been made available.

“Local government cannot give a hall pass to an illegal business,” said Troy DeSouza, the lawyer who represented the City of Langford.

“It strikes me as very difficult for a local government to grant licences or permits to an illegal business.”

Municipalities attempting to regulate cannabis businesses before legalization are exposed to legal liability, he said.

The City of Victoria is being sued by Green Dragon Medicinal Society on Herald Street. The business alleges the city was wrong in denying its rezoning application based on the dispensary’s proximity to the Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street.

Green Dragon’s owner, Robert Bradbury, a retired public health inspector from Calgary, argues that the Chinese language school does not qualify as a school under the city’s original cannabis retailers policy.

Bradbury said in a statement that the business has “spent a significant amount of time and money in achieving compliance with the published policy, including $17,500 in fees paid directly to the City of Victoria.”

A last-minute move by the city to “broaden their definition of what constitutes a school was unfair and arbitrary.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she cannot comment on the lawsuit because the matter is before the courts.

Victoria is turning to the courts to shut down businesses that have not applied for business licences or rezoning or are operating as lounges that allow marijuana smoking, which is prohibited by the bylaw. The city has filed a court injunction against a Douglas Street cannabis lounge called Terp City.

Owner Kyle Cheyne said he has hired a lawyer to fight that injunction. He said he also intends to sue the city for denying a rezoning application for his other cannabis business, Leaf Compassion cannabis dispensary on Yates Street.

Cheyne said he spent thousands of dollars trying to comply with the city’s rules only to have the rezoning application turned down.

“We worked very hard for this and I can’t believe I have to take the city to court over this,” Cheyne said.

“But I'm doing what I believe is right.”

Helps said the last thing she wants is for the city to spend money defending its marijuana regulations in court and hopes that the federal and provincial governments will soon set rules on cannabis legalization.

“Hopefully, the province will give some direction to local governments in B.C. that will not see all of these things fought out in court,” Helps said.

Since the city introduced its pot shop regulations a year ago, Victoria bylaw officers have issued 113 tickets totalling $67,725. Many of those tickets are being disputed. City officials were not able to say how much is still owed.

Helps said she doesn’t think the city’s attempt to regulate marijuana businesses was premature because “regardless of what the provincial and federal government determine in terms of distribution, there will still be a role for local governments to zone sites. We have all of that in place whereas many local governments will be in reactive mode, trying to come up with rezoning [rules], whereas we’ve done the work ahead of time.”
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by papapuff » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:23 pm

Saanich waiting on pot details

Province asks public for input on pot as legalization approaches

Wed Sep 27th, 2017

Saanich continues to take a wait-and-see approach regarding the pending legalization of recreational marijuana.

Delegates at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention including Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell heard Monday that the province will consult the public on aspects of marijuana legalization that fall under the province’s control.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the announcement some two weeks after he met federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and other provincial ministers to discuss the pending legalization of recreational marijuana scheduled for July 1, 2018.

While Ottawa governs the licensing, production, testing and quality control of recreational marijuana, provinces are responsible for distribution and retail sales.

Farnworth Monday said the consultation will continue until Nov. 1 in promising that the province will listen to municipalities and their respective concerns. “One size does not fit all,” said Farnworth, noting the opinions of cities outside of the Lower Mainland are often overlooked when senior governments implement new policies. Municipalities have since confirmed their desire to have a say.

Ultimately, this development could mean that different municipalities will have different retail rules once recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Farnworth also used his speech to defend the pace of the implementation. “We are doing everything we can to make sure we meet the July timeline,” he said.

Atwell however struck a more pessimistic note. “The general feeling in the room after the announcement was that most municipalities in [British Columbia] are not ready for the federal changes and it appears neither is the province as no staff were made available after the announcement,” said Atwell.

While Saanich can look to Victoria and Vancouver for bylaw examples, it really needs to understand what the regulatory framework will look like and work from there, said Atwell.

Farnworth’s suggestion that municipalities could set their own rules raises the possibility of a regulatory patchwork across the Greater Victoria.

A preview of this prospect is already available. While the City of Victoria has allowed dispensaries and compassion clubs to operate outside existing federal rules on the premise that a future regulatory framework would accommodate them, Langford has resolutely resisted such a laissez-faire approach. This reality has pushed would-be customers from the West Shore into Victoria, a phenomenon with the potential to affect Saanich as well, since at least two dispensaries ply their products directly at or near the border with Saanich.

Saanich, meanwhile, has no immediate plans to allow such enterprises as legalization approaches.

“Saanich is aware of possible changes to federal legislation that could take effect in July 2018,” said Kelsie McLeod, a Saanich spokesperson in an earlier interview. “Staff will continue to monitor federal changes and note any potential impacts for [council] to consider.”
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by papapuff » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:14 am (EXCERPT)

Victoria city council news in brief

Decisions made, discussions had at city hall

LAUREN BOOTHBYWed Oct 18th, 2017

Notes from Victoria City Council meeting Thursday Oct. 12:

Medical marijuana joint temporarily allowed

Buds and Leaves, a cannabis dispensary located at 732 Tyee Rd., was approved for a three-year temporary use permit. They share a wall with a business owned by Yanik Giroux, who spoke at the public hearing and complained about cannabis smells seeping into his business, where he teaches music lessons to children and adults.

The temporary use permit will expire in three years.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:50 pm (north-park-neighbourhood-news)

Canna Mall rezoning declined by Council

October 20, 2017 by npna

At its October 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, Victoria City Council turned down Great Canadian Canna Mall’s rezoning application to operate a cannabis storefront at their location at 1625 Quadra Street.

This decision is in keeping with North Park’s guidelines developed at a June 7 NPNA public meeting. Our four recommendations are at np-cannabis-storefront-recommendations. For more detail about the special meeting, see our earlier post below: Proposal for change – Cannabis Dispensary Regulations

It is our hope that the businesses operating out of the Canna Mall will accept this decision and vacate the building.

We are already starting to hear ideas floating around the neighbourhood about other things that could happen in that building to contribute to the vitality of our neighbourhood.
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