Kelowna, Kamloops pot shops still pay big bucks as Vernon reduces licence fees
The City of Vernon has reduced its sky-high business licences costs for cannabis stores, but pot shops in Kelowna and Kamloops aren't so lucky.
After lobbying from cannabis stores, the City of Vernon voted unanimously yesterday, Jan. 10, to bring pot shop business licences in line with liquor stores.
The move could mean as much as a 17-fold reduction in their yearly business licence for some cannabis stores.
Spiritleaf Vernon owner Sarah Ballantyne lobbied council over the exorbitant fees.
"This shows the support from the City of Vernon to the cannabis industry and to small local retailers who own and operate their stores in the community," Ballantyne told iNFOnews.ca. "High licensing fees and heavy restrictions continue the stigma around cannabis and the more municipalities that blend cannabis into their regular businesses licensing help fight that stigma."
Currently, Vernon pot shops pay $2,000 per year for a business licence, which will now be reduced to anywhere from $115 to $800 depending on the square footage of the store.
Ballantyne previously said her business licence should drop to around $185.
The cost of initial applications in Vernon has also been halved to $2,500 from $5,000.
The move puts Vernon in line with West Kelowna and Penticton which charge similar rates to retail and liquor stores at $360 and $180 respectively.
While pot shop owners in Vernon have gotten a break, those owning cannabis stores in Kelowna or Kamloops are still paying big bucks for their business licences.
Weed store owners in Kelowna pay the most in the region at $9,465, while store owners in Kamloops pay $5,000.
However, both cities are eyeing change.
"Kelowna staff are also considering a similar move and will bring a report with recommendations to Council this year. Likely with a Business License bylaw update," a spokesperson for the City of Kelowna told iNFOnews.ca.
Kamloops is also looking at a possible change and is waiting on the recruitment of a new business licence inspector.
"After which we could see what amendments to the bylaw are required and then bring to Council for consideration," a City of Kamloops spokesperson said in an email. "If this review proceeds, we would likely canvass other communities as part of the review process."
At Vernon council's Jan. 10 meeting it was confirmed that cannabis stores that had already paid their 2022 business licence will see a refund.
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