A fourth recreational cannabis retail store has been approved by the Town of Cochrane and there have now been two successful appeals of applications originally refused.

In a written decision late last week, the town's subdivision and development appeal board gave the green light for WestLeaf, to establish a location at 111 2nd Ave. W. That building was last occupied by Tim's Gourmet Pizzeria and is located across the street from Cochrane Coffee Traders.

The application was originally rejected because it fell 29 metres short of the required 150m setback from another cannabis store. On Jan. 17, the proprietors argued the location was actually a walking distance of 190m and that no other cannabis store has been approved on the same street nor is in plain sight.

In a written decision a week later, the board determined the variance of 29m was reasonable and the location would not result in a cluster of stores that the town is seeking to avoid.

There is one more application being reviewed by the town from West Coast Cannabis to locate a store at 205 3rd Ave. in a strip mall facing Hwy. 1A.

All four approved locations are currently awaiting a licence from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). The AGLC temporarily suspended issuing licences in late November but on Friday said their supply had increased enough to approve 10 more locations across Alberta. In total, 75 licences will have been approved provincewide, nearly a third of them in Calgary.

While there was has been a modest increase in supply, AGLC says it's still not stable enough to fully open the licensing process or resume accepting new applications.

Newest Location holds Loads of Memories

Many long-time residents have a sentimental attachment to the 2nd St. location. It's among the buildings the Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society (CHAPS) has on its list to include in their historical plaque program.

According to CHAPS' book, "More Big Hill Country" (Cochrane and area 1945-80), it as built by Eustace Bowhay in the 1940s and operated for many years as a coffee bar and restaurant. It's best remembered as "The Range Grill," the name Laura Kells gave it in 1958.

"It was just a little wee place, to begin with," explains CHAPS secretary Bernice Klotz, "and it had a horseshoe-shaped counter in it with the till at the front and you could enter from either side. They then built an extra piece on to the south side and added tables and service."

It was particularly popular among Cochrane youth for its candy and jobs.

"A lot of people got their first jobs at places like the Elite Cafe, the Chinook Cafe or the Range Grill," she explains. "Those were the three mains places in town where a young kid could get a job."

"If your folks actually gave you a nickel or a dime that you could spend, the minute the scouts or guide meeting was over at the Community Hall, just up the street, you headed for Range Grill. They closed at 9 p.m. and you had to get in line to get your candy."

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