Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Pot shop claim dismissed

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit brought against Salt Spring’s Local Trust Committee (LTC), finding it did not act unreasonably in denying a new cannabis retailer its application. 

Canna Northwest Enterprise Inc., who sought the LTC’s approval for its application to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), had hoped to open a retail store at 109 McPhillips Ave. in Ganges. The LTC denied that application in June, and Canna petitioned the court in November to declare the LTC’s denial as unreasonable and a breach of “procedural fairness and natural justice.”   

Canna had alleged trustees made their decision to refuse its application based upon concerns about “competition and market saturation” after receiving public comment and correspondence from representatives and supporters of local cannabis shop Harvest Moon — rather than, as the official resolution states, “due to proximity to schools, the library and a public park.” 

The lawsuit had noted, among other concerns, the large number of resident signatures Canna had collected on a petition in favour of their application, compared to a smaller amount of correspondence against, calling it “coordinated.”  

But Justice Anthony Saunders wrote in his April 29 decision that while trustees made what he agreed was a “political decision,” there was no excess of jurisdiction. Trustees, he wrote, were free to exercise their discretion in a matter of political concern, and did so within the framework of existing legislation. 

“They appear to have done what would have been expected of them as elected officials: they heard their constituents’ concerns, and acted on them as they saw fit,” wrote Saunders. “That decision is deserving of the highest level of deference.” 

In addition, Saunders noted while there were more signatures on the petition in favour of the application than emails opposed, there was no legal requirement for trustees to follow the wishes of the majority. 

“If there are to be consequences to the LTC having given effect to what may have been a minority view, that will have to be expressed through the ballot box,” wrote Saunders, “not through this court second-guessing their decision.” 

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