Prince Rupert Square Mall is not open to the cannabis business, for now.
The mall’s ownership said they will wait to see what the community’s response is to cannabis retail in Prince Rupert before entertaining the possibility of a leasing space to a retailer.
“We’re here to please all the local residents, not just to make money,” said Steven Tao, CEO of Rupert Square Mall. “So we want to be sure that everyone is happy with what’s going on.”
Tao is one of four owners at the mall. He said the group has been approached by individuals expressing an interest in opening cannabis stores as the City of Prince Rupert continues to craft the legislation governing sales in the city.
He said none of those proposals have been given serious consideration at this point.
Another factor weighing into the ownership’s decision are the potential impacts cannabis retail will have on the mall’s other tenants. Tao said he intends to survey the other businesses in the mall to see how they feel about the issue.
“We don’t want to interfere with their business,” he said. “We’ll see if they’re open to the idea. Whatever people want, we’ll do. If there is any objection to it, we will not do anything.”
At least one business in the mall is hesitant about the possibility of cannabis being sold in the mall. Karen Basso, manager at Quadra Travel, said she’s worried that cannabis sales will increase loitering at the mall, an issue that is already concerning to her.
“I would highly vote against having a marijuana store in the mall,” Basso said. “I understand that it’s legal, but it would add to the issues we already have here.”
Although the mall’s owners are not currently open to allowing a cannabis retail shop in their space, the mall will remain in the proposed zone designated by the city for retail sales.
The mall’s ownership had an opportunity to submit a letter requesting they be excluded from the zone, which extends through the city’s downtown core. However, Tao said they chose not to request exclusion from the area to maintain flexibility for future decisions.
Tao said all the mall’s owners would be informed and involved in the decision to open a cannabis store.