Cindy Pendergast has filed a petition against the Town of Sidney after councillors denied her application to open a retail cannabis store on Beacon Avenue. The issue boils down to two opposing requirements from the Province and Town when it comes to window displays. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Hopeful Sidney pot shop owner challenges town in court after application denied

A court petition has been filed against the Town of Sidney

A proposed Sidney pot store is filing a petition after councillors denied an application for the store to set up on the Town’s main street.

Cindy Pendergast and her business partner hope to open Happy Buddha Cannabis in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue but her application to do so has not been able to pass due to two opposing requirements.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) requires opaque window coverings for recreational cannabis stores. However, Sidney’s development permit guidelines for Beacon Avenue businesses require transparent windows with active displays.

“Although Sidney amended a bylaw saying the business is allowed on Beacon Avenue, we’ve run into this window roadblock,” Pendergast said. “It was the final step and it was so shocking because we had such positive conversations until now.”

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

The Town adopted a policy in August that said all stores on Beacon Avenue must have transparent windows. Pendergast said she and her partner were in talks with the province and the Town to come up with a solution that worked for both governing bodies. They came up with the idea of a living wall window display that would be both active and non-transparent.

A rendering of the living wall that was proposed for Happy Buddha Cannabis’ store window. The LCRB approved this design as opposed to an opaque window and Pendergast proposed the design to Sidney Council. (Courtesy of Cindy Pendergast)

Pendergast said a rendering of the wall was was commissioned and sent to the LCRB. It was the first time the Branch approved a window display like it and did so the day of the council meeting so it could be available for council to consider.

“We submitted it because we thought it was beautiful enough for Beacon Avenue as it is lively, very appealing and met the LCRB’s fully non-transparent requirements,” Pendergast said.

Now, Pendergast has acquired legal services to challenge Sidney council’s decision.

Her lawyer, John Alexander of Cox Taylor Lawyers in Victoria, said Sidney cannot ask that Pendergast do something that is against provincial law.

READ ALSO: Owners of denied pot store in Sidney have not ruled out legal action

“A municipal government cannot require what a provincial government prohibits,” Alexander said. “Provincial law trumps local municipal law.”

Pendergast said she and her partner cannot understand why the window is becoming such a roadblock. They have put about $40,000 into the business expecting the last approval with the Town would work out.

Members of the public and businesses have also favoured the application, Pendergast added.

“We have done everything council has wanted us to do,” Pendergast said. “We’re nice people… it’s going to be a really nice store so our hope is that we can complete the application process successfully and continue to work with Sidney positively.”

According to Alexander, the petition will now work its way through the court process and is tentatively scheduled to be heard in the second or third week of January 2020 at the Victoria Supreme Court of B.C.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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