Prince Rupert’s budding cannabis sector had another chance to learn how and where the sale of marijuana can take place.
The City of Prince Rupert held a public information session at Coast Mountain College on Nov. 13 to further clarify its role in the retail sale of cannabis and gather feedback, including concerns over the number of stores that may be possible downtown.
More than 30 people, including residents, business owners, city councillors, were in attendance.
“It was interesting the kind of conversations that came up,” said Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the City of Prince Rupert. “I’m sure council was there and absorbed a lot of it and will be taking it into account when they consider the policy recommendations that we’ve been making.”
Stewart, who was the session’s main presenter, began by showing a brief video explaining the legal framework that has been put in place by the province to regulate the retail sale of cannabis. She then explained how businesses can obtain licences to sell cannabis in Prince Rupert.
Following the presentation, Stewart opened the floor to questions from the audience, most of which were about the area designated strictly to downtown for cannabis sales.
“My question was about why it is in such a congested downtown area, and exposure for youth,” said Huber Haldane, a resident in attendance at the meeting.
There were also concerns about how many stores would be permitted within the current area proposed by the city. Currently, there must be 75 metres of space between retail cannabis stores in the city’s downtown core, which would allow for approximately 20 stores to exist. However, city planner Zeno Krekic said it would be “ludicrous” to expect that many cannabis stores downtown.
Prince Rupert councillor Wade Niesh added that the city has no current plans to cap the number of cannabis stores.
“We don’t want to get into the business of picking winners and losers,” he said. “People need to be able to start their business and their business will survive if they are the one that provides the business that people want to shop at.”
There was also a question about the licensing fee charged by the city to consider an application. Applicants will have to pay $5,000 to apply for a municipal business licence, $500 of which is non-refundable. If the application is successful, the business will pay a $2,500 annual fee. Stewart said the money would go to the administration of cannabis applications and regulation.
Following the question-and-answer period, attendees had a chance to mingle and ask the city’s administrative staff and council questions. Stewart said she felt the roll out of local regulations in Prince Rupert is being done in a controlled way that will work long term for residents and business owners.
“We really wanted to make sure that we’ve looked into what the provincial regulations were and that we understood them and can adapt accordingly and have regulations that are appropriate for Prince Rupert,” she said. “So we will be looking at feedback and integrating that.”