Altona town council approves location for retail cannabis store

Westleaf Chief Commercial Officer Adam Coates made a presentation to Altona town council last week, outlining the details of Prairie Records, a retail cannabis shop opening up in Altona early next year. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

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Altona will see a retail cannabis store coming to town early next year.
Town council has approved Westleaf Inc.’s application to set up shop on 2nd St. NE located in the commercial central district.
The Altona cannabis retail store will be called “Prairie Records” and will be Westleaf’s first commercial operation in Manitoba. It is part of a chain of similar operations at other locations in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
At a public hearing on Oct. 22, Westleaf Chief Commercial Officer Adam Coates noted that a number of factors were taken into consideration when selecting a location for their cannabis retail store, especially in a smaller municipality.
“We really looked hard at the regulations regarding proximity to schools to make sure that we far exceeded those distance separations, and also thinking about parks and churches and playgrounds and other places where children often congregate and making sure we’re away from those sensitive use areas. But when we considered the location, we also thought about accessibility. We want it to be a thriving business because at the end of the day, this is bringing new business into the town.”
Coates said he believes the business will come to be seen as a positive addition to Altona.
“It’s something we’ve prided ourselves in. Whenever we come to a new community, we’ve done a lot to become part of it. To listen to the feedback, to listen to the concerns and just be really good neighbours. We want to hear your opinions. We want to have those discussions.”

Altona town council has approved Westleaf Inc.’s application to set up a retail cannabis store on 2nd St. NE, located in the commercial central district. The vacant space is located across from the Altona Mall. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

About a dozen people attended the public hearing, with three in the crowd noting their objections to the plan.
To address these concerns, Coates assured that safety is at the top of their minds. “There are a lot of compliance protocols that we follow and exceed. This is not going to be a black eye on the town. If you look at our design and how we approach things. It looks very professional. It’s very clean and it exceeds expectations.”
Coates added that they’re always willing to sit down and talk, and address anyone’s concerns.
“It’s something that’s been illegal for a long time, and I also think it’s something that’s misunderstood. Education is key here. If you look at our stores, we’ve got customers from age 19 to 95. It can be incorporated and useful for a lot of people. The safety we bring is paramount.”
Altona Mayor Al Friesen said it was not a decision that council took lightly.
“This is was an example of the process being followed. People had concerns, and they had an opportunity to speak up. We took everything into consideration. The organization worked with our economic development officer and we were able to target good options for them and something that would fit our town.”
Friesen added, “Our council has tried to be pro-business and this is a space being filled with a retail operation and it provides jobs for people in our community. So, I think in that respect, its all positive.”
Prairie Records is expected to open in Altona in early 2020.