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MPC approves cannabis retail store for Fort Macleod

Fort Macleod’s first retail cannabis business will set up shop in the provincial historic area.
The municipal planning commission last week approved a development permit for Bridge Bud Supply Ltd. in the Grier Block.
Chase Bennett, one of three partners with the company, was at the September municipal planning commission meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.
Bennett said Bridge Bud Supply Ltd. was first established in Lethbridge.
“We’ve just started to expand from Lethbridge to a couple of other municipalities in southern Alberta,” Bennett said.
The company is building stores in Pincher Creek and Claresholm and will open later this month or early in October.
“In regards to our Fort Macleod application, we’re hoping to be part of the town,” Bennett said, promising to meet every requirement of the Town of Fort Macleod and Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission.
Bridge Bud Supply Ltd. is working with Fraser Shaw, a heritage conservation advisor in the southern region for the provincial Historic Resources Management Branch with regard to renovations to the building.
MPC member Sharan Randle asked Bennet about the company’s plans for signage in Fort Macleod’s historic area.
“We’ll meet the requirements for signage,” Bennett said. “We want to assimilate with the town. We don’t want to stand out.”
The company is required by provincial legislation to obstruct the view into the store from outside the building.
Bennett said in other stores the company has put a mountain scene on the window to obstruct the view.
“It really depends what the town requirements would be,” Bennett said of the covering used in Fort Macleod. “If they wanted something that was just an opaque window, we would just frost the window.”
The signage would just have the name of the business, Bennett added, without additional graphics.
MPC member Marco Van Huigenbos asked whether all the product inside the store would be sealed.
Bennett explained the product comes from the government of Alberta in vapour-locked packages.
“There’s very, very little smell,” Bennett said. “There’s actually no open cannabis in store whatsoever.”
Bridge Bud is allowed by government to have 15 dispensary pods in the store, tethered to tables, that allows customers to smell the product.
The cannabis is kept in a secured room that meets requirements set out by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
Some stock will be kept in locked display cases in the front of the store.
“At the end of the night everything is taken out of those display cases and put back in the secure room,” Bennett added.
Margaret Padley is a Fort Macleod resident who attended the meeting to find out more about the operation.
“What about usage of it (cannabis) on the street?” Padley asked. “Is that allowed?”
MPC vice-chairman Shawn O’Sullivan said Town of Fort Macleod by-laws prohibit consumption of cannabis in public.
“You can’t walk down the street and openly consume,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s no different than a bottle of alcohol.”
Padley expressed concern people who are high will loiter outside the cannabis store.
Bennett sad the province has strict regulations for cannabis retail stores, and staff will call police if anyone lights a joint outside.
Joanne Neilson, a resident of the Grier Block, expressed concern about noise.
The store could be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. but Bennett said those hours won’t likely be in place all week.
The Lethbridge store is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Bennett said there will be no loud music or noise.
“There is very little disturbance to our neighbours,” Bennett said of the Lethbridge store. “We’ll work with you. If there’s any disturbance let us know.”
Alain Dubruiel voiced concern that Bridge Bud customers will use the private parking for his Java Shop across the street on Second Avenue.
Bennett said that in Lethbridge the store has a parking plan to which customers must comply. A similar plan will be used in Fort Macleod to address Dubrueil’s concern.
Dubruiel also voiced concern that the development permit application was not widely circulated. Development officer Keli Sandford produced a list of 16 adjacent property owners to whom she mailed notification.
Bennett said he understands there are concerns when a cannabis shop opens in a community, noting he and his partners were raised in southern Alberta and want to fit in the communities where they have stores.
“You don’t want any problems or concerns coming from us,” Bennett said. “You’re not going to get any.”