By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Wheatland County Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has approved the amendment of a development application for a cannabis store within the hamlet of Gleichen.
The application submitted to the county was to amend the development permit issued May 31, 2022, proposing to change the hours of operation of the store.
Prior to the approval of the change at the MPC meeting, the applicant had been approved to operate their store Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. The approved amendment now allows the applicant to operate from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. regularly, and until midnight on special occasions.
The license issued to the applicant by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) prescribes a maximum operational period between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. The county also noted the building in question has been renovated to meet AGLC standards.
According to county administration, all conditions of the previous development permit have been met, including all building renovations, audits, fire inspections, and confirmation of a valid license.
The original development permit which was granted to the applicant by the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board for a two-year term was scheduled to expire, April 12, 2024. The applicant had also requested the county consider the amendment application be regarded as a renewal application.
County administration agreed a future renewal application of the development permit is not required and the applicant may proceed as planned.
A letter from the applicant was circulated around the surrounding community of their planned operations, gauging support for their increased hours, to which they reported nearly 260 responses in support of their intentions.
The county, receiving 10 letters themselves regarding the applicant, were notified of nine in support, and one person expressing opposition.
Rather than including all of the letters responding to the applicant in the MPC agenda, a list was compiled and was made publicly available regarding who the responders were, their noted opinions, and where they are from.
In a message to the county, the applicant reported positive results from their business in the approximate year and a half since their license was issued to operate. This message included notation of a lack of loitering, damage to the store and surrounding area, and consistent traffic that is not a hinderance to their neighbours.
“Since the opening of the store, I have not heard a single complaint or concern from any ratepayers in the hamlet. There are still of course folks who philosophically disagree with the legalization or the use of cannabis, but there have been no complaints or concerns,” said Reeve Amber Link. “I have had gratitude expressed for the responsibility of the owner, there has been multiple community events that the owner and the store have supported and sponsored, they have also donated to different community events and initiatives within the community.”
Wheatland County MPC approved the amendment of the development application following a brief discussion, noting the success of the store and lack of complaints regarding its presence.