Costly application, licensing fees proposed for prospective Penticton pot shops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Costly application, licensing fees proposed for prospective Penticton pot shops

FILE PHOTO - It's going to cost potential cannabis retailers in Penticton some big money in application and licensing fees as city staff prepare Penticton's cannabis retail sales legislation.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
November 21, 2018 - 4:20 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton cannabis retailers will be paying some of the highest annual licensing fees in the region once the city’s legislation is in place and applications are approved.

Penticton’s new council was updated on the progress regarding the creation of the city's retail cannabis outlet legislation at yesterday’s council meeting, Nov. 20.

Probably the most controversial proposal is staff’s recommendation to restrict outlets from locating on Main or Front Streets, a point of contention acknowledged by city planning staffer Blake Laven.

Laven said the restriction would ultimately be easier to remove than to add later, telling council Main Street contained the “highest level” of retail in the city and staff didn’t want to jeopardize that with uses not yet completely understood.

He also noted provincial legislation decreeing storefront windows be covered up, saying such a requirement might be unsightly on Main Street. Cannabis outlets will also be restricted to no closer than 300 metres of a school or another outlet, with a 750-metre restriction outside of the downtown area.

The city has received seven referrals from the province so far; in addition to the province indicating it’s desire to open a cannabis store.

Cannabis retailers will also be paying some of the highest municipal fees in the region for licensing, including a $2,500 application fee and a $5,000 annual licensing fee.

Laven said the fees, by far the highest retail licensing fees in the city which are typically around $175, were justified due to the additional time and expense incurred by the city to process applications, provide inspections and enforce legislation. He said the work involved was similar to that required to process a zoning amendment.

The licensing fees are in addition to those imposed by the province, which includes a $7,500 application fee and a $2,500 annual licensing fee, making first year fees for a Penticton cannabis retailer in the order of $17,500.

According to the city’s own research, only Kamloops charges a $5,000 annual licensing fee, with most other municipalities surveyed charging $2,500 or less annually. Application fees ranged from a low of $1,500 in Summerland to $7,500 in West Kelowna.

Council members were largely supportive of the framework, but some concern was expressed about the Main Street restrictions.

Coun. Judy Sentes said she wasn’t supportive of prohibiting location of cannabis outlets on Main Street, saying the businesses will regulate themselves.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield also said he wasn’t sure prohibiting sales on Main Street would be helpful. He expressed the need for public access to cannabis to prevent illegal sales, adding citizen feedback expressed more concern about where cannabis was to be consumed than to where it was sold.

Council directed staff to continue work to provide a draft policy for council endorsement at the Dec. 4 council meeting prior to a Dec. 18 public hearing.

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