One of the first Vancouver pot shops to have it’s permit appeal rejected by the city’s Board of Variance is taking that body to court, claiming the city interfered with its hearing.
Adam Blender’s dispensary, the SWED society, is among the dozens of pot shops to have their development permit applications rejected for being with in 300 meters of a school.
SWED appealed the decision in February, but failed there too when the Board of Variance upheld the city’s decision.
It was the first in a string of similar hearings in which the Board has made clear it is unwilling to bend on the 300 meter rule.
But Blender claims the Board threw his appeal out after unfair pressure from the city.
He claims under the Vancouver Charter, relaxing bylaw restrictions is specifically within the Board’s power when someone can prove a hardship specific to their property.
But he claims at his hearing, Vancouver’s Assistant Director of Planning John Greer improperly instructed the board that it had no flexibility or jurisdiction when it comes to the distance regulation.
“Mr Greer specifically informed the Board that it had no flexibility or jurisdiction under the by-law with respect to relaxing provisions regarding a dispensary being 300 meters from a school.”
Why are we here right now?
Blender claims the board followed Greer’s instructions, and “in turn declined to exercise, and in turn, fettered” it’s legal power to relax bylaws.
The suit claims Board member Gilbert Tan then expressed confusion as to the purpose of the hearings.
“If we have no ability to actually change these decisions, why are we here right now?”
He claims the city had no right to instruct the Board, and points to language on the Board of Variance website indicating “City committees or Council may give information to the Boards on particular appeals, but they cannot influence Board decisions.”
Blender is calling for the decision to be scrapped, and a declaration the board acted outside its jurisdiction and denied him a fair hearing.
The City of Vancouver referred requests for comment to the Board of Variance. The board did not return a request for comment from CKNW.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
The city of Vancouver voted to allow and regulate dispensaries in the city last June, but set strict rules to apply and just 14 of the initial 176 applications met the requirements to apply for a development application.
64 dispensaries put their names on the list to appeal their rejection, while dozens of others which are too close to neighbouring pot shops are going through a process called “declustering,” in which one will be allowed to apply for a permit, while the others must close or move.
The city has set April 29th as a deadline for those dispensaries either without a permit or within the application process to close their doors.