A pair of private cannabis retail license applications will go before city council on Tuesday.
Tawd Hamonic is applying to open a cannabis store at 240 Lansdowne St. in downtown Kamloops, while Rebecca Hardin is pursuing a shop at 279 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops.
The applications mark the eighth and ninth to come before council, following recreational cannabis legalization last fall. Council has so far approved all of them. The city expects to eventually have between 15 and 20 stores, compared to about 28 retail liquor stores.
“Our emails and phones continue to ring and I’ve always said, quite likely by July, we’ll have close to that 20 mark,” city business license inspector Dave Jones said.
So far, one government store has opened in Kamloops, in the Columbia Place Shopping Centre in Sahali. A private shop, The Shore Cannabiz Shop, is due to open in mid-February and other applications are awaiting final approvals from the province.
In advance of the next two applications to be reviewed by council, some residents are concerned about a perceived concentration of shops slated for North Kamloops. In addition to the The Shore Cannabiz Shop at 399 Tranquille Rd., other private stores are expected in the Fortune Shopping Centre and former JJ’s Shoe Repair on Tranquille Road. The province is also planning to open another BC Cannabis Store in the Northills Shopping Centre.
“We do not need one on every corner,” Findlay’s Vacuum and Sewing Machines owner Patti Montpetit wrote the city. The store is located at 251 Tranquille Rd.
Others in the area who wrote to the city in opposition of the latest North Kamloops application, noting problems in the area, such as homelessness, drugs and prostitution.
Jones said the city has received no complaints related to the government cannabis store operating in Sahali and has no reason to believe soon-to-open shops will cause problems in neighbourhoods. A required good neighbour agreement ties stores’ business licences to a set of terms laid out by the city, which Jones said helps to ensure there is no disruption.
“I would have to say to people who have concerns is it hasn’t shown that these stores have been problematic,” Jones said.
He also expects competition will drive future applicants to other areas. He noted the bigger zones downtown and in the Tranquille Corridor are beginning to be maxed out.
The city amended its zoning in advance of legalization and council opted against a staff recommendation to allow cannabis stores to operate within 150 metres of each other, instead supporting a 100-metre buffer zone.
As for the emerging recreational cannabis industry across British Columbia, the province has received about 400 cannabis licence applications, 250 of which have been reviewed and sent out to various B.C. communities. Only eight stores have opened in B.C., though six applications are nearing completion. Kamloops appears to be well ahead of other communities with respect to supply of legal cannabis.
Jones said each community has a different way of dealing with cannabis stores. Rezoning requirements, for example, can add months to the application process. Kamloops amended its zoning in advance and became the only location on legalization day, Oct. 17, to sell legal recreational cannabis.