Nearly two years to the day that cannabis became legal in Canada, Abbotsford finally looks set to approve its first four licensed retail outlets.
Last year, the city capped the number of initial stores at four, while prezoning 10 sites for cannabis sales and setting the guidelines for a competitive application process.
When the city finally started accepting applications this spring, eight proponents came forward. Seven made it to a public hearing stage. Council heard little opposition at the time, leaving staff to sift through the details of each proposal.
Now, city staff are set to recommend which four applicants will get permission to open Abbotsford’s first licensed retail cannabis operations.
According to a report before council Monday, the three applicants that failed to get staff’s recommendation lost out largely because the city wanted the four permitted cannabis outlets spread out through the city and not clustered in one location.
With four of the seven applicants proposed for the central Abbotsford South Fraser Way corridor between Clearbrook Road and Ware Street, only one could proceed. The three applicants with proposed locations outside of the city centre have all been recommended by staff.
The four applicants recommended to proceed are:
- This is Cannabis at Abbotsford Village Shopping Centre on Sumas Way
- Muse Cannabis Store at Parallel Marketplace on North Parallel Road
- BC Cannabis Store (government-run) at Highstreet Shopping Centre
- Meta Cannabis Supply Co. at Clearbrook Town Square.
Sweed Cannabis Store at Sevenoaks, A Little Bud at West Oaks Mall and Honeycomb Cannabis at Meadow Fair Plaza failed to gain staff’s recommendation.
Aside from a desire to avoid clustering, a staff report doesn’t indicate what, particularly, tipped the scales in favour of Meta Cannabis in central Abbotsford. All four companies operate cannabis stores in other jurisdictions, although Meta Cannabis has the most outlets, with 35 licenced operations across Canada under several names.
Regarding feedback from the public, the report says “Most of the comments were supportive and there were few comments of non-support. Staff would therefore not suggest excluding any of the 7 applications on the basis of public input.”
If council goes along with staff’s recommendations, the city will tell the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch which proposals it supports and which it is not supporting.
The city can change the framework through which it regulates cannabis stores – including the four-store limit – at any time.
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