City staff are hoping to have recommendations for retail cannabis stores in Penticton go before council by spring.
A municipal policy approved in December set a date of Feb. 1 to begin processing the application referrals received from the province so far.
Eleven of the 12 applications the city knows about are private and the other one is the Liquor Distribution Branch, according to planning manager Blake Laven.
“The next step is we’re going to start processing applications and the public is going to start seeing signs go up on the properties,” said Laven. “Then there will be a consultation period where the public can give comment to City of Penticton staff and then we will be preparing recommendations for city council. Ultimately it will be put to city council to make a decision on each one.”
The consultation process will then take two weeks.
“We could have somebody open as early as May or June. Again, it’s out of our hands once we’re done with it. It’s however long it takes to get through the province,” said Laven. Staff is hoping to be able to bring recommendations before council in April. “We’re only one small piece of this, local government recommendation. I think we’re moving along quite quickly compared to a lot of other areas, it’s a process.”
The city is planning several activities in the next few weeks to inform the community about the applications. Property owners and residents within 45 m of an application will receive a notice in the mail and signs will be installed at each of the locations. As well, a map of the locations and a summary of the applications will be published on the city’s website.
Once the notices are in place, a two-week public comment process starts, likely the third week of February.
Laven said the applicants haven’t expressed any concern of the process taking too long.
“We’ve heard a lot from the public. At some of the forums, they were like what’s the hold up? We’re getting a lot of that. The general public doesn’t understand the process that was established by the province, so they just want to see the stores open.”
The BC Government’s Cannabis Licensing pages currently show only eight private licenses in the province (one government one in Kamloops) have been issued, two in Kimberly, three in Vancouver, one each in Pouce Coupe, Trail and Tumbler Ridge.
The city has not put a limit on the maximum number of cannabis stores in Penticton, but instead set out buffer zones — not allowing stores to be within 300 metres of another store in the downtown and within 750 metres outside of the downtown.
“With the applications we do have, there are a few that conflict and we’ll have to recommend one over the other,” said Laven. “Out of the 12 we received, six are in downtown and six elsewhere.”
Licenses are issued by the province after the city recommendations are received.