Kelowna says it has received 41 applications to rezone site for legal cannabis retail stores. —Image: Capital News file

Kelowna gets 41 applications for pot shop site rezonings

City says it will still use committee to vet applications before planning department deals with them

The City of Kelowna says it has has received 41 submissions during its first intake of rezoning applications for proposed new retail cannabis stores.

Rezoning is the first step in Kelowna’s process to establish lawful cannabis retail stores in the city.

“Applications were received from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30—with the majority of them coming in as expected this week prior to the deadline,” said community planning department manager Ryan Smith.

“Most applicants are keen to ensure they are meeting the requirements and present a fully-formed application for consideration.”

The city, expecting “hundreds” of applications, announced it was setting up a committee to vet applications prior to them being forwarded to the planning department for consideration and then on to city council for approval.

Despite the smaller number, Smith said the committee, to be made up of city staff, police, bylaw and other officials, will still be used.

Over the next few months, he said these applications will be evaluated by the committee using a council-approved scoring matrix to determine those that best comply with appropriate zoning and bylaws, security plans and neighbourhood fit.

The application process will also be overseen by an independent consultant to add transparency to the evaluation and prioritization process.

“Applicants will be notified in early 2019 if their application has been selected to move forward through the standard city rezoning process,” said Smith. “We will continue to accept applications, however, only applications received prior to the Nov. 30 deadline will be considered in this first intake.”

The rezoning process typically takes between four to six months, he added.

A positive recommendation and input from the city is required to obtain a license to operate a non-medical cannabis retail store from the provincial government.

In August, council established the retail cannabis sales subzone and adopted zoning changes that are designed to address fairness among retailers, while ensuring they are in appropriate areas of the city – similar to the approach with retail liquor stores.

At the time, it said there were potentially 900 locations where retail cannabis store could be located in the city. But that number would quickly come down as spots were taken because of rules put in place about spacing and distance required from other stores, schools and parks.

With a successful rezoning to the retail cannabis sales subzone and license to operate a non-medical cannabis retail store from the provincial government, retail cannabis sales establishments may be located in specific commercial and industrial zones in Kelowna. But they must be a minimum of 500 metres from other retail cannabis sales establishments, middle and secondary schools and 150 metres from select parks and elementary schools.

Additional requirements of the building, fire and safety codes also need to be met as part of the licensing approval process.

Smith said once applicants have to pay a $1,000 fee to apply and if the application is forwarded on, an additional $9450 fee for rezoning.

Once an application is forwarded by the committee, basic information—the name of the applicant and the proposed location—will be available on the city’s website. Smith said unlike with other rezonings, public information will be limited because of issues such as security at the proposed location.

He also said that because there are a number of applications looking to go downtown in the same area, if the application is tied on the matrix, a lottery system will be used to decide which applications the city proceeds with.

Becuase of the process involved, Smith said it’s unlikely there will be legal cannabis retail stores operating in Kelowna before the end of April 2019.

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