Pot retailer Don Briere asks City of Vancouver to relax distance rules for two shops

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The owner of Weeds Glass and Gifts Ltd. is seeking permits for two of his Vancouver pot stores.

Don Briere has filed development applications for 1108 Richards Street, and 2580 Kingsway.

Briere is asking the City of Vancouver in both applications to relax rules on where weed shops can do business.

The city requires pot shops to be at least 300 metres from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses, youth facilities serving vulnerable youth, and other weed stores.

The two Weeds locations are within 300 metres of two community centres, and an elementary school.

The city previously rejected a development application for 1108 Richards Street.

The same store was subsequently mentioned in a December 13, 2018 decision by a B.C. Supreme Court, which ordered the closure of unlicensed pot shops in Vancouver.

In an “operational letter” for 1108 Richards Street, Briere noted that the city had relaxed distance requirements in the past.

In addition, Briere explained that while the shop is approximately 115 metres from the Gathering Place Community Centre, the facility is “not a community centre for or that focuses on children”.

“The reason for the 300 meter distancing requirement from community centres is to keep cannabis retailers away from places frequented by children,” Briere explained. “The Gathering Place is primarily for seniors, low income people, homeless people.”

“They do provide some services to vulnerable youth,” Briere continued, “but Weeds Glass & Gifts Ltd is scrupulous about ensuring that no one under age is permitted in their store.”

Briere also noted that 1108 Richards Street is approximately 277 metres from the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

According to Briere, it would be “unjust and unreasonable to force Weeds Glass & Gifts Ltd to close that location and lay off its staff over a few meters between it and the edge of the Roundhouse property, which is large”.

The city will receive comments from the public about the 1108 Richards Street application until Friday (March 29).

The period for public comment regarding Weeds’ application for 2580 Kingsway closed on March 14.

In an “operational letter” for that location, Briere noted that the store is approximately 222 metres from the John Norquay Elementary School.

According to Briere, his business is “very strict about enforcing the 19+ only policy for people who wish to enter the premises”.

“As with liquor stores, which are permitted to be 150 metres from schools, no child would ever be allowed into a WEEDS location,” Briere wrote.

The retailer recalled that the Kingsway store has been operating for four years, and has had no incidents involving minors.

“Further, the Kingsway store is such a distance from the school that no child would see into the store from the school and they would be unlikely to pass by, particularly as the store is across busy Kingsway street from the school in addition to being well over 200 meters away,” Briere also stated.