Cannabis store coming to University Village after regional board approval

The Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Board recommended last Friday that a license be issued to a University Village cannabis store.

The passage of this motion brings an end to a year-long battle in the University Endowment Lands (UEL) over Burb Cannabis’s application to open a cannabis shop at 5784 University Boulevard. From here, the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch will approve the applicant’s license, allowing it to open.

Hundreds of UEL members voiced fierce opposition to the proposed store over the last year of debate. The AMS came out in favour of the application. Debate at the June 24 MVRD meeting centred mainly around the fact that the board gets to make a decision on a cannabis shop near UBC when only one member is democratically elected by the area’s residents.

The MVRD Board has 40 directors, representing 21 municipalities across Metro Vancouver, one electoral area and one treaty First Nation. Each director is allocated one vote for every 20,000 people they represent, for up to five votes.

A decision about a cannabis store all the way out at UBC landed at this board due to governance practices that confounded local representative Jen McCutcheon.

McCutcheon, the elected director of the Electoral Area A which includes the UEL, said there’s a real issue that this board made up of people who don’t represent this community are able to make this decision. She noted that 90 per cent of those who engaged with this process did not support the application.

“It’s not about cannabis, it is about governance,” McCutcheon said. “I just ask that you let our community do what your community was able to do and that is let your local elected officials make a vote based on what they have heard from their community.”

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who sits on the board, pointed to Burb Cannabis’s “stellar record” operating stores in Port Coquitlam. He said that the “moral opposition” to cannabis is not in the purview of Metro Vancouver.

“While I appreciate cannabis is not for everyone, it is a legal product,“ he said. “Although a number of people have said, ‘This is not about cannabis, this is about process,’ the reality is, if this was not a cannabis store, none of this would be taking place.”

The motion to recommend passed with 100 votes for and 30 against.