Opening a pot shop in Kelowna will be costly

City to charge a total of $10,500 just to apply and get rezoning for a store

Selling legal cannabis in Kelowna won’t come cheap.

The city plans to charge prospective pot shop owners $10,500 in zoning and application fees, about three times the cost of the same fees for a regular business.

City council has approved a $1,000 fee for applying to open a store selling cannabis once the drug is legal for recreational use in Canada Oct. 17, and another $9,500 if the application is chosen by a specially appointed panel the city will use to determine which application should be forwarded for consideration. Annual business licence fees will be on top of that.

According to city staff, the fees will cover the cost of the time required to deal with applications and rezonings. The city has said it expects to be inundated with applications.

RELATED: Kelowna expecting hundreds of pot shop applications

The Kelowna fees are higher than those proposed in Victoria ($7,500), Edmonton ($5,600), West Kelowna ($5,000) and Penticton ($2,500).

City planner Ryan Smith said in most cases, the fees cover about 80 per cent of the actual cost to the city of dealing with applications for new businesses. But in the case of cannabis retailers, the city is trying to recoup 100 per cent of its costs to save taxpayers having to pay any part of the cost.

According to information presented to council, the city has already spent bout $116,000 dealing with creating a regulatory system to prepare for the drug’s legalization.

Council voted 8-1 to approve the fees, with only Coun. Charlie Hodge opposing the move. He said he felt the fees were too high.

The city plans to start accepting applications for prospective cannabis retail outlets Oct. 1 and continue through to Nov. 30.

They will be then vetted by a seven-member city appointed panel of city and law enforcement personnel. Applications deemed acceptable will be passed on to council for consideration after checks into areas such as the business plan, security and other areas.

Stores are not expected to open in the city until next spring.

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