Abbotsford looks to charge aspiring legal cannabis sellers large fee to apply to open store

Abbotsford looks to charge aspiring legal cannabis sellers large fee to apply to open store

Application fee of $7,500 would cover cost of evaluating proposals

Applying to open one of Abbotsford’s first legal cannabis stores won’t be cheap if council approves the city’s first cannabis retail rules in two weeks’ time.

The new rules are set to go to a public hearing later this month after council gave two readings Monday to necessary changes to the city’s bylaws.

If approved, those rules would set the stage for a two-month application period, after which the city would select the first four stores to be allowed to open.

Abbotsford’s zoning bylaw will limit the number of cannabis stores to four, and require them to be located at one of 10 designated sites – predominantly existing shopping centres.

Aspiring legal cannabis sellers will have to pay a $7,500 application fee to the city. Applicants must also pay an identical sum to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

The city fee is intended to cover the cost of processing each application, paying for advertising and holding a subsequent council hearing.

Once the deadline for applications passes, the city will screen submissions for “completeness and consistency with city bylaw requirements,” then look to begin collecting feedback from the public for each proposal.

Once that process is finished, staff will prepare a report to council, which will make the final decision.

But all that is dependent on council signing off on the new rules in two weeks following a public hearing.

“I think we are trying to manage this in a responsible and respectful way,” Coun. Ross Siemens said.

Mayor Henry Braun added: “We are very interested in what the public has to say and we will deliberate afterwards.”

The 10 sites and four-shop limit will likely be the most significant issues.

But council may not simply be able to increase the four-store limit on the spot and adopt a new bylaw. Instead, council might have to hold a new public hearing if it wishes to boost the limit – although that could be a question for lawyers to answer, staff said last month.

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