Province grants licence for 10th legal cannabis store in Vancouver, on Kingsway

Seven stores are currently open in the province’s largest city, as B.C.’s slow rollout of legal stores continues

Here is what the Kiaro store on Kingsway looks like on the inside | Janis Nicolay Photography

What happened: Vancouver-based Kiaro is readying to open a legal cannabis store at 1316 Kingsway in Vancouver by August 1 now that the B.C. government has granted it a licence to operate.

Why it matters: There has been a slow roll-out of legal cannabis stores in a city where most stores are illegal, but Kiaro has one of 10 licences that the province has granted in Vancouver so far. 

Kiaro joins two other potential stores that have provincial licences. The next step in the process is to get City of Vancouver business licences, which cost $33,097 annually and are prorated.

The other companies that the city confirms are still in the queue to get city business licences are WestCanna, which intends to open a store at 700 West Broadway, and THC, which intends to open a store at 6416 Main Street.

These stores join seven others that have business licences and are already open to the public. Those stores are:

         •Evergreen Cannabis, 2868 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver;

         •City Cannabis Co., 7289 Fraser Street, Unit 7291, Vancouver;

         •City Cannabis Co., 610 Robson Street, Vancouver;

         •City Cannabis Co., 2317 Cambie Street, Vancouver; 

         •Hobo, 4296 Main Street, Vancouver;

         •Hobo, 8425 Granville Street, Vancouver; and

         •Muse Cannabis Store, 3039 Granville Street, Vancouver.

Kiaro already operates two stores in Saskatchewan – in Saskatoon and La Ronge – as well as an e-commerce site that stipulates that all customers must have delivery addresses in Saskatchewan.

It plans to open eight stores in B.C. within the next two years and for four of those to be operational by the end of this year.

Kiaro’s senior vice-president Andrew Gordon told Business in Vancouver that his company has applications in with the provincial government to open two  stores on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo and Victoria.

Three other applications that are with the provincial government are for stores in the Tri-Cities area and the District of North Vancouver, Gordon said.

It is not clear where Kiaro will try to open two other stores but Gordon said that at least one more store is likely to be in the city of Vancouver.

“There are still municipalities out there with no regulatory framework so we’re going to be pursuing avenues that way but the goal is to have eight stores,” Gordon said.

B.C. limits all cannabis companies to a maximum of eight stores and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who is in charge of the province’s cannabis regulations, told BIV earlier this month in an exclusive interview that he has no plan to change that limit.

“That’s staying in place for quite some time,” Farnworth said on July 11.

“We said we would look at it again in 2021, and there is no plan at this point to change that.”

He then explained that his rationale for the eight-store limit is to ensure opportunities for small-business owners.

“There were a lot of people sitting outside the province thinking, ‘We’re going to come in and we’re going to open up,’ and its like, wait a sec here,” Farnworth said.

“There are a lot of small entrepreneurs in this province who have wanted to get into the business and we think they should get first crack – particaularly in a lot of small towns where we’re trying to encourage local ownership.”