City of North Van gets whiff of pot shop possibilities

City will mull changes to way it handles cannabis-store applications, councillor says

With the days of forced closures long-forgotten, City of North Vancouver council is currently considering five pot shops. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

City of North Vancouver council got their first look at five potential pot shop proprietors Monday evening.

After opening the online bud-gates last November, the city sorted through 16 applications on a first come, first served basis before settling on four private stores and one provincial government shop.

“Frankly, it’s not every day that we end prohibition,” Coun. Tony Valente said.

While there are winners and losers, Valente said he took solace in the fact council plans to review their policy in two years.

Noting the sluggish pace of their municipal neighbours on the issue, Valente noted the City of North Vancouver will become the North Shore’s pot shop destination.

However, the city’s “first past the post” application approach left much to be desired, according to several applicants left in the dust during the green rush.

City council previously endorsed a policy allowing a maximum of six pot shops: two in Central Lonsdale, another two in Lower Lonsdale, and one apiece in the city’s west and east reaches. But because no applications were submitted to operate out of the eastern zone including Park and Tilford and the bus depot, speakers representing Quantum 1 Cannabis lobbied for council to permit one more pot shop or for the city to re-do the application process.

However, successful applicant Brian Riedlinger, co-owner of Sailor Hagar’s Brew Pub, praised the process, outlining the steps he took to submit his application on time.

While the process of legalization hasn’t been smooth for some entrepreneurs, Mayor Linda Buchanan told disappointed proprietors they may have another chance.

“This is the just the first step,” she said.

Buchanan also praised city council’s decision to limit pot shops based on zoning.

“To be honest, I don’t want six cannabis stores, or even more cannabis stores, along the Lonsdale corridor,” she said.

But while pot shops may be limited in number, they don’t  necessarily have to be discreet. Buchanan spoke against mandating frosted windows for pot shops, noting that would seem at odds with the city’s goal of transparency.

While each shop will be required to go through the city’s rezoning process, city staff recommended processing the applications “as a single batch” to streamline the process.

Council retains the right to reject any one or all of the applications.

Successful applicants will be on the hook for nearly $14,217 in application fees, a business application fee, a one-time application processing fee, and the first installment of an annual business licence fee of $3,691.