Cannabis company wants BC Supreme Court to force City of Vancouver to issue permit and business licence for Commercial Drive retail store

BIV's lawsuit of the week

Shutterstock

Egg’s Canna Franchising Ltd. is taking the City of Vancouver and its Board of Variance to court to compel the issuance of a development permit for a Commercial Drive marijuana retail store that was previously rejected due to “neighbourhood opposition.”

In a petition filed in BC Supreme Court on October 25, Egg’s Canna claims it made two previous unsuccessful attempts prior to legalization to get a development permit for a cannabis retail operation at 2633 and 2637 Commercial Drive. In May 2019, the company’s latest application was denied due to objections from neighbours, which it appealed to the Board of Variance. The board, however, refused to hear the appeal because it had already denied Egg’s Canna’s previous appeals and found the latest attempt to be for the “same site” and “same land-use.”

But Egg’s Canna claims the board failed to consider the new application as “made under a new bylaw and arose in an entirely different regulatory environment,” the petition states.

“At the time of the application and BOV [Board of Variance] hearing, cannabis had been legalized, and the previous neighbourhood objections related to issues for which the municipal, federal and provincial governments had addressed in the new regulatory environment.

“Additionally, the experience of legalization across North America has resulted in studies that debunk the concerns expressed by the objectors. The newest development permit application also had substantially more support than previous applications, which was not taken into account by the BOV.”

The company claims the city’s regulatory scheme prior to legalization and community opposition “clearly took into account the general illegality of cannabis-based businesses,” which was no longer the case with the passage of the federal Cannabis Act in October 2018.

“The Petitioner’s appeal arose out of a different context than previous applications, particularly because cannabis became legal in Canada,” the petition states. “As a result, the Petitioner’s appeal was, in effect, a new appeal, rather than the third appeal in the same matter.”

Moreover, the company claims the board struck the appeal from the record before providing Egg’s Canna a “fair opportunity to address concerns around the ‘same site’ ‘same land-use’ issue.”

Egg’s Canna seeks an order quashing the board’s decision on its latest appeal, and orders compelling the city to issue a development and business licence. The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court and the city had not responded to the case by press time.