New cannabis store one step closer to opening in Iqaluit

Councillors passed 2nd reading of a zoning bylaw Tuesday evening

Higher Experience Inc. manager Kevin Ikeno speaks at a public hearing Tuesday evening about a new cannabis store that would be located next to Northmart and the future Inuusirvik Community Wellness Hub. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new cannabis store is one step closer to opening its doors in Iqaluit, but not without debate.

The bylaw amendment that would allow Higher Experience Inc. to operate next door to Northmart passed second reading at a council meeting Tuesday evening, and has one more to go.

The city held a public hearing on the matter just before city council held its meeting.

The Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, which is planning to open a wellness hub near the proposed store, as well as other residents, sent feedback to the city.

Kadence Bunke, a consultant with Northern Futures, a planning company contracted by the city, presented that feedback to council.

The Qaujigiartiit centre went through an application process with the city in 2021 for its Inuusirvik Community Wellness Hub, which is currently undergoing construction on the plot of land behind where the cannabis store is set to go.

In its submission to the city, it said the cannabis store “has a misalignment of the goals” of its wellness hub.

“[The centre has] specific concerns about the proximity to the daycare that will be part of the wellness hub and the use of cannabis so close to where children might be outside playing,” Bunke told council.

One resident objected to the application, stating a cannabis store shouldn’t be close to schools — in this case, Nakasuk Elementary School — and that the location doesn’t have enough parking.

Three residents supported the application, Bunke said.

Their reasons were that the store would be more accessible than Nuna Cannabis, located on Sivumugiaq Street (formerly Federal Road), it would provide people with an alternative to drinking alcohol; and it might lessen the illegal sale of cannabis in the area.

If approved, the new store will occupy 50 per cent of the ground floor of Building 760, according to city documents. It will be about 100 metres from the Lower Base playground and 150 metres from the Nakasuk school playground.

The application is being led by Kevin Ikeno, the manager of Higher Experience Cannabis.

Building 760 is located about 100 metres away from the Lower Base playground and 150 metres away from Nakasuk Elementary School playground. (File photo by David Venn)

He presented during the public hearing, saying one of the main arguments he hears against the store is its location.

“If not Building 760, then where?” Ikeno said. “This is the area in town designated for businesses.”

He noted the benefits of cannabis use, that only adults over the age of 19 would be allowed in the store and that it would “minimize if not eliminate visibility and exposure” of cannabis to young people in the area.

“From the outside of the building, you will not see the product or images depicting cannabis,” he said.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard, prior to voting, said it’s a difficult decision to make, partially because city policy doesn’t specifically address where cannabis businesses can be located.

The potential conflict between the wellness hub and future cannabis store is due to the city’s lack of planning policy, he said.

“My biggest concern is the adjacent project that’s already underway and already fully approved by the city, and was done so on the understanding of what could be built around it,” Sheppard said.

Coun. Kimberly Smith is in support of the store, as both she and Sheppard made remarks about how drugs are being sold illegally by people in the area.

“The difference is now that it would be a more safe and regulated product and it wouldn’t be getting into the hands of children,” she said.

“Certainly the people who are selling drugs in front of Northmart currently are not asking for identification.”

Councillors Paul Quassa, Smith, and Sheppard voted in favour of approving the store.

Coun. Simon Nattaq opposed, saying cannabis is destructive, the store wouldn’t look good downtown or deter illegal sales, and that the business may not help Inuit employment.

The city has not said when the bylaw’s third reading will be scheduled.

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by Protime on

    The only destructive thing is allowing it to continue to be sold by unlicensed dudes outside every store anyways. Hopefully it comes at a better price than the shame of having to engage with those types of people in order to access it. Cause we’re gunna do it either way…

    • Posted by Truestory on

      Cheap marijuana. Better from the streets.

  2. Posted by Cheech & chong on

    Would be nice , if it was next to the beer store , so could do my beer run , and if i m out of weed , just pop next door

  3. Posted by DudeTown on

    When the guys in front of Northmart run out of weed to sell, they just start offering the other drugs to kids trying to buy them. Opening a store fixes this problem.

  4. Posted by confused on

    Why do people take alcohol and weed? it only shows their weaknesses.

    • Posted by Oh look, a Puritan on

      Because it’s enjoyable. In moderation it is likely beneficial for your health. What makes you think that taking it indicates ‘weakness’?

    • Posted by This is why… on

      Jazz sounds way cool with a little THC floating around in my brain.

    • Posted by confused on

      Yeah beneficial to the weak,

      • Posted by Observation Post on

        This response is weak

    • Posted by helps on

      you should try it sometime, you won’t be confused anymore

    • Posted by Pedro Cortez on

      Read “Pot stories for the soul” by various people.
      Maybe that’ll make stuff less…”confusing”.

  5. Posted by Dulcinea on

    I’m going to start calling the b&w store “Tipsy-er Experience”.

  6. Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

    I realize that commercial space in IQ is limited. But next to the wellness hub?

    • Posted by Protime on

      It can be medicinal, its not always recreational.. It actually makes sense to have it located there. It will encourage people to access it safely, harm reduction is important in any circumstance. It will also create jobs for people without formal education.

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        The medical reason is being overused.

        If it is for medical purposes, get a prescription and go to the drug store.

        If everyone knows who the dealers are, report it to the RCMP and file a complaint and if you see them dealing in front of the kids, put the run to them.

        • Posted by Dr. Feelgood on

          Are you a medical professional or researcher, Mr. Murphy? How do you know “The medical reason is being overused”?

          In anticipation of your response, my anonymity makes this question no less valid.

        • Posted by Protime on

          Girl, the point of the store is to reduce the violence surrounding the drug. Not encouraging people to “put the run” on a dealer, which is so volatile to even be said. eeeeeeeeeeeee how dangerous.

          I didn’t realize you have personally & professionally surveyed the overuse of the “Medical reason”/ sorry.

  7. Posted by Inuk on

    Better to have the store monitored. Because how harsh strong it is. For safety of young people. Good to test it out first.

  8. Posted by MARS on

    This comment section is so out of touch.

  9. Posted by Short Sighted Selfishness on

    The problem with this decision is it’s failure to see how this will affect the children of today which is the future of tomorrow. Do you know how many companies comment they either can’t fill positions because no one is interested in working or they have to send home those that are either intoxicated or stoned? This store plans to sell no only weed for smoking but also edibles. Do you know where these edibles are going to end up and who will be hurt the most?? The children!! Come on people, look beyond your own selfishness!!!

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Thank you!!

    • Posted by Pure Hysteria on

      Edibles are awesome, you should try one…

  10. Posted by Maq-Pat on

    I like this style of reporting for local politics, especially noting the position of individual councilors. Am curious though where are Stevenson and Awa in this?

  11. Posted by Post Malone on

    Criminal harassers

Comments are closed.