Greater Victoria municipalities will consider at least seven applications for private pot stores

Greater Victoria municipalities will consider at least seven applications for private pot stores

Victoria will eventually consider six applications, while Sooke will consider one

Six private applications for marijuana retail businesses will eventually find their way before Victoria city council. The question is when and which review process they will undergo.

Bill Eisenhauer, spokesperson for the City of Victoria, said the provincial government has notified the municipality that it will send six applications for comment.

But it might take some time before the council elected on Oct. 20 will actually consider them.

“We have done nothing with them, because we don’t have a process of reviewing them,” he said.

Overall, Black Press currently knows of seven applications for private retail operations from the Greater Victoria area.

The District of Sooke is also set to consider an application at some future date.

While Recreational marijuana will become legal across Canada on Oct. 17, local officials continue to wrestle with key questions, such as the fate of pot shops that are currently operating. Only one government store located in Kamloops will sell recreational marijuana and the government has yet to issue a single private retail license.

RELATED: Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

Overall, the provincial government has forwarded 19 applicants from the the administrative region that includes Vancouver Island to municipalities for comment.

Overall, the provincial government has sent 62 applications to local authorities (including First Nations) for final assent before they can legally sell marijuana, according to figures from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB).

The geography of the 19 applications awaiting local approval has blank spots as the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) will not release statistics for specific communities, citing privacy and competition reasons.

RELATED: Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday the province has received 173 paid applications for private cannabis retailers. Of those, 111 applicants have paid the $7,500 application fee, but their applications remain incomplete. Once completed, the provincial government will forward their applications to municipalities.

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Of the 62 applications that have received provincial approval, 35 are in jurisdictions that have indicated that they are “ready” to licence stores, Farnworth said.

Looking at the regional numbers, the province has received a total of 42 applications from the administrative region of Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Gulf Islands, with 23 incomplete.

RELATED: Marijuana roll out will be challenging, new territory for everyone: Horgan

Compared to other regions, the region that includes Vancouver Island appears leads all regions in terms of applications, except for the North and Interior, from where the province has received a total of 72 applications, with 29 applications awaiting final approval.

One Greater Victoria community that will not definitely approve any private retail operation in the near future is Saanich.

The region’s largest municipality this summer issued a “full” prohibition of the sale, production and distribution of recreational cannabis until staff have had an opportunity to review federal and provincial legislation.

RELATED: Update: Saanich puts lid on future pot sales for now

“At this time, staff recommend the prohibition of sale, production [and] distribution of recreational cannabis,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning in the report at the time.

Cited reasons include what Hvozdanski called a “[lack] of detailed information” from federal and provincial officials. “This is a fast-moving and evolving issue and information continues to be released,” she said.

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wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com