Happy Buddha Cannabis plans to re-submit its application for its proposed Beacon Avenue store with this storefront design as approved by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCRB) and after a court had ruled in the business’ favour. (Happy Buddha Cannabis/Submitted)

Happy Buddha Cannabis hopes to be before Sidney council ‘soon’

Promise comes after a court ruled in favour of the business

A spokesperson for the cannabis business that recently won a court case against the Town of Sidney said she hopes the shop will be up and running soon.

“We hope to appear before town council very quickly and – hopefully soon – to be able to do our part to keep local shopping dollars right here in Sidney and into the tax coffers,” said Cindy Pendergast of Happy Buddha. “We will do everything we can to help our community come back stronger than ever from the economic impact of COVID-19.”

She made that promise after a court had set aside Sidney’s decision to deny what would have been the community’s first recreational cannabis store for reasons of “illegality,” according to John Alexander, the lawyer representing the business.

Sidney council had denied plans by Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles to open Happy Buddha Cannabis in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue by a vote of 4-3, with opponents pointing to the municipality’s requirement for transparent windows on Beacon Avenue among other reasons. By way of background, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch at the time required opaque windows, setting up a contradiction between municipal and provincial regulations.

RELATED: Court strikes down Sidney’s denial of proposed cannabis store

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RELATED: Sidney’s first-ever pot store application flames out before council

Several weeks later, the business started legal proceedings against the municipality, in part on the basis that the municipality cannot require the business to do something that is against provincial law. In June, the provincial government dropped the requirement for opaque windows. In other words, the previous conflict between municipal and provincial regulations has disappeared, leaving the application in compliance with both.

Justice Jennifer Power of the British Columbia Supreme Court nonetheless agreed with the business’ lawyer that a “municipal government cannot require what a provincial government prohibits.” Power also found the municipality failed to follow process in hearing the initial application in the fall of 2019.

Pendergast called Power’s ruling “a measured, well reasoned decision” while also sending out conciliatory signals to the municipality.

“We appreciate the town’s reaching out to us this morning and we are excited to show them our new window design,” she said. “Let’s get down to business and keep shopping dollars in Sidney.”

Pendergast said earlier that the business plans to ask council to approve the store as soon as possible.

“With COVID-19 no one is sure what the Sidney retail outlook will look like in the coming months,” she said. “Especially with an anticipated [second COVID-19] wave predicted for the fall. We’re here to open a new business in tough economic times. That means jobs, business taxes and consumer dollars that stay in this community. Happy Buddha will do our best to create more foot traffic on Beacon and the economic spin off will help everybody.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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