The City of Kamloops is expecting five more private cannabis retail shops to be open by the end of the year as a backlog of applicants makes their way through the licensing process.
The five shops — three downtown and two in North Kamloops — have all received approval in principal to sell cannabis and will now need to ensure their stores are up to code before receiving a final licence from the province.
“As long as they’re abiding by the provincial regulations, they can move forward and open a store,” said Dave Jones, the city’s business licence inspector.
“Typically what happens is most of the stores will need to do some renovations, add some shelving and put signs up, so right now most of them are in that process.”
Jones expects two or three of the stores will be open by the end of September and the rest before the end of the year.
There are eight other private stores still awaiting approval in principal, Jones said.
To date two government stores and one private cannabis shop have opened in Kamloops.
While the city has approved multiple applications since legalization, prospective owners have been waiting months for the provincial government to process applications.
Jones said he has received many concerns and questions regarding the delay, given his position on the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation, but all he can say is the province has many applications and is doing its due diligence on background checks.
While he conceded the wait time seems longer than it should be, he noted the time frame is no longer than the process to obtain a liquor license.
“Liquor primary is exactly the same process. A liquor primary license is eight months to a year,” he said, noting the province is still processing some 500 applications.
“To process 500 applications, I can just about guarantee the province didn’t go out and hire 500 new staff,” Jones said.
In order to receive a licence to sell recreational cannabis, an applicant must first apply to the province, which then sends a referral to the city.
If council approves the application, city staff then send a referral back to the province, which conducts a series of background checks.
“They’re going to look at who the ownership groups are, what is there background, who’s supporting them financially,” Jones said.
With approval in principal secured, some applicants may require a building permit for any renovations needed to meet provincial regulations before receiving final approval.
“Approval in principal means go ahead and invest, there’s no reason we see we’ll turn you down,” Jones said. “Obviously, you’re not going to start spending money on signage or shelving units or all kinds of security systems until you know that the province is going to give you a license.”
The final step involves obtaining a business licence from the municipality, which takes about a week, Jones said.
The five cannabis shops approved in principal are located at 519 Victoria St., 240 Lansdowne St., 405 Victoria St., 279 Tranquille Rd. and 726 Sydney Ave.