The District won’t be standing in the way of Sky High Cannabis receiving a licence from the province.
Councillors voted unanimously to not oppose the non-medical cannabis retail store licence application that the business submitted to the province.
Director of planning Jonas Velaniskis said that this was a significant step to getting approval from Victoria, and marks the near-end of the process.
The province looks for local governments to give feedback regarding dispensaries, he said. Generally, it interprets property-specific rezoning or development permits to dispensaries as municipal approval.
Absent of that, the province will ask municipalities if they oppose the business, Velaniskis said.
But while one weed business seems to be cruising through provincial processing, another seems to be in stasis.
The owner of 99 North Cannabis wrote a letter to council providing an update on the store.
“The province continues to be silent on progress. Very frustrating but I continue to be optimistic about the future while continuing to provide access in the current illegal/municipally licenced store,” Bryan Raiser wrote.
Raiser also took stock of two inconsistencies between the District’s cannabis store regulations and those of the province.
First, the municipality demands windows be clear, while Victoria asks to keep them covered.
He asked for the District to lobby the province to remove the demands for covered stores, though he noted it would be a challenge. He then said provincial hours are more lenient than those of the District. Squamish forces cannabis stores to close at 8 p.m., while B.C. regulations allow them to stay open until 11 p.m.
District staff said it might want to consider aligning its opening hour regulations with those of the province.
Staff will bring forward bylaws on this matter for review later this year.
The last point on his letter observed that cannabis licences in Squamish cost $5,000, which he said is higher than liquor stores.
Raiser said he’d like to see consistency between pot and booze licensing.
Velaniskis said the District might want to consider aligning its opening hour regulations with those of the province. Staff will bring forward bylaws on this matter for review later this year.
Regarding licensing fees, Velaniskis said the town asks for more money because the municipality was expecting marijuana dispensaries to suck up more municipal resources, such as enforcement and administrative costs.
Time will tell if the rate was set too high, he said.
If processing gets streamlined and costs less money, the District could lower the rates, Velaniskis added.