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John B Pub owners set to open cannabis shop in Coquitlam

The establishment's co-owners are looking to rezone a property a just few doors down.
northern lights
Northern Lights Cannabis is proposed to open in Austin Heights in Coquitlam. If OK'd by council, it will be run by the co-owners of the John B Pub.

A second Coquitlam pub is about to open a cannabis retail shop.

On Monday (June 20), city council gave second and third bylaw readings for the co-owners of the John B Pub to rezone a property a few doors down.

If awarded final approval, siblings Brent and Tara Lepinski — the children of the pub’s founder, John — will launch Northern Lights Cannabis at Unit B-1052 Austin Ave., a location currently with an art and photo studio.

Council's decision came after a public hearing in which the family's agent spoke about the application and a number of high-profile business leaders voiced support.

Lisa Landry of the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association (BIA) told council her group backs the proposal as the Lepinskis have a history in the neighbourhood with being good corporate citizens and assisting with fundraisers.

She added, if there's to be a cannabis store in the area, "then they are the ones" to hold the license and run the store given their background with regulated products.

Former BIA executive director and area resident Erin Davidson also stood before council in favour of the operation as well as Leslie Courchesne, CEO of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, saying the John B is a "pillar" in the community.

Austin Heights businessman Paul Manocha, whose Beyond Basic Eyewear is across the street from the pub, spoke about the John B’s success as well, and welcomed the retail addition.

If OK’d, the store would be on the south side of Austin Avenue between Nelson and Marmont streets and would employ 14 staff.

It would be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

But the bid also attracted opposition, too, with neighbours warning council about the extra traffic, the store’s proximity to children’s spots and negative neighbourhood changes.

Northern Lights was the only cannabis retail shop recommended by city staff; two other proposals — from Burb and Inspired Cannabis — were also on council’s radar for Austin Heights, but were rejected at the May 30 public meeting.

Council said it wanted to stick with the framework it voted on last December by allowing six shops in five neighbourhoods (in brackets, businesses with preliminary approvals):

  • Austin Heights (Northern Lights Cannabis)
  • Burquitlam (Imagine Cannabis)
  • Lougheed (Seed and Stone)
  • Maillardville (Brunette Cannabis Company)
  • City Centre (The Local Leaf Cannabis and KJ’s Best Cannabis)

The Brunette Cannabis Company is set to be attached to Woody’s Pub on Brunette Avenue, another well-known drinking establishment in southern Coquitlam.

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