Kelowna city council has approved an annual business licence fee of $9,465 for new cannabis retail stores. —Image: Capital News file

Price of selling pot in Kelowna won’t be cheap

City sets annual business licence fee for cannabis retail stores at $9,465

The price of selling pot in Kelowna will be steep.

After setting the fee to have property rezoned to allow a retail cannabis store to operate in the city at $10,450 —$1,000 of that just to have the application considered for the rezoning—city council has set the annual business licence fee for pot shops at $9,465.

City licensing manager Greg Wise told council Monday the fees are aimed at cost recovery for the city.

He said given the cost to the city so far to deal with the issue of retail sale of cannabis now that it is legal in Canada, at least 12 stores will have to be approved for the city to recoup its costs.

RELATED: Opening a pot shop in Kelowna will be costly

So far, the city has has received 41 applications for rezonings. They will be sent to a committee set up to vet them and the ones deemed viable will then go through the rezoning process.

Questioned by Coun. Charlie Hodge about the annual licence fee, Wise said while some other cities, like Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops will charge $5,000 a year for a business licence, others like Vancouver will charge much more. Vancouver’s licence fee is $30,000 per year.

But Hodge was not convinced.

Calling Kelowna’s fee “outrageous” and a “cash cow” for the city, he was the only member of council to vote against the regulations governing cannabis stores presented to council by Wise. The regulations include the licence fee.

Under the new city regulations, four types of cannabis-related licence fees will be applied, including ones for:

• Retail stores selling cannabis

• Retail accessory stores selling cannabis-related products but not cannabis itself

• Cannabis-related businesses providing services related to the promotion of the sale of cannabis, but not the product itself

• Cannabis counselling services

Wise said under provincial rules accessories, counselling and business advice cannot be offered in the same store as cannabis itself.

The city plans to review the fees approved Monday in two years.

Meanwhile, the city says its unlikely Kelowna will see its first legal cannabis retail store open before the end of April.

2019.

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