Matt Nicholas, owner of Vernon's Black Crow Cannabis, runs one of the many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

There are some high costs for operating cannabis shops around the Okanagan, but particularly in Kelowna.

Business licence fees are being balked by many retailers, with the City of Vernon recently tasked to review its $2,000 annual cost.

READ MORE: Cannabis shops paying premium to operate in Vernon

In comparison to Vernon, Kelowna charges $9,465. Meanwhile, other retail businesses pay $150-250 in Kelowna ($135-185 in Vernon).

“The higher fees are due to the costs of developing policies, managing this emerging business sector, sorting through applicants and administering it all,” Kelowna’s corporate communications manager Tom Wilson said. “The business licence fee is expected to come down by 2023 as the sector becomes more established and routine to administer.”

Lake Country charges $530.75 for marijuana dispensaries or grow operations, the licence renewal for other storefront businesses is $106.

Yet in Penticton, there is one fee ($185) no matter the type of business.

“When we were originally setting up our cannabis regulations, there was debate about an appropriate rate to charge for stores and it was decided to set the rate the same as any other retail business in the community,” said Penticton’s director of development services Blake Laven.

In West Kelowna, retail cannabis businesses fall under a Tier 3 licensing fee of $360, compared to Tier 1 which is $60 and Tier 2 which is $135.

Despite the high cost of doing cannabis business in Kelowna, it still has nine licenced shops. So does Penticton.

Vernon has the greatest number of shops in the Okanagan at 14.

There are four each in West Kelowna and Salmon Arm, two in Lake Country and Armstrong, Enderby and Lumby each have one. These are just the licenced stores and do not include the many shops on Westside Road.

The Interior is a hot spot for cannabis shops, with the highest number, by far, throughout the province.

According to application statistics from Liquor and Cannabis Licensing, there have been 177 licences issued in the Interior and the North (244 applications have been submitted, with some in the process of being approved). While the Interior/North covers a much larger area, Vancouver Island has had 79 licenses issued (130 submitted), Greater Vancouver has issued 71 (128 submitted) and Surrey/Fraser Valley has eight (36 submitted).

With many cannabis shops now in their second year of business, they are feeling the pinch as they renew their licences. Like Vernon’s Spiritleaf, which opened the Okanagan’s first legal cannabis shop on July 1, 2019. The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has called on Vernon to cut ‘too high’ of fees in support of local business.

“Unless the city can demonstrate that retail cannabis shops place undue financial pressure on city resources such as policing or bylaw compliance, then there is no justification for $2,000 a year, particularly at a time when our community and economy depend on recovery from the pandemic,” Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce president Krystin Kempton said in a letter to Vernon council. “Maintaining such a high business license fee could threaten the viability of entrepreneurs and employment opportunities.”

On top of increased fees for banking and almost every aspect of business, due to the nature of the business, Black Crow’s Matt Nicholas says it’s not fair how the City of Vernon charges so much.

“Hopefully they drop it, ‘cause $2,000 is ridiculous,” Nicholas said.

But for those who operate in multi-jurisdictions, like Spiritleaf, they do not have to pay the high licence fees in each city. Instead, an inter-municipal (or mobile) business licence fee of $150 is all they need outside of their home municipal business licence.

Aside from the annual fee, new stores pay an application fee for going through provincial approval, which requires local government support.

READ MORE: Lumby greenlights Okanagan’s first cannabis business park


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cannabisSmall Business

Just Posted

Fraser Health registered nurse Kai Kayibadi draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. To reduce long lines and wait times the first 1,000 Surrey residents to arrive at the neighbourhood clinic on both Monday and Tuesday will receive wristbands and a same-day appointment. The effort is in addition to the provincial vaccination plan which is now open for bookings to anyone who is 18 years and older. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
69 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Interior Health

The province, in total, recorded 411 new cases showing a downtrend of new infections

Council has allocated funding in the 2021 budget to upgrade and restore this part of the Gartrell Trail named after Summerland pioneers Fred and Mary Gartrell. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
COLUMN: Providing answers about Summerland’s Gartrell Trail

This 225-square-metre strip of land lies between the existing Gartrell Trail and the high water mark

WorkSafe BC is out in the Interior making sure wineries, cideries and breweries are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. (File photo)
WorkSafe visiting Interior wineries, cideries and breweries ahead of tourist tasting season

40 field inspections and 35 consultations are expected over next few weeks

B.C. RCMP released these two photos of Erick Fryer (left) and Carlo Fryer (right). The two brothers from Kamloops were found dead near a remote road in Naramata May 10, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Slain Kamloops brothers found near Penticton not likely connected to recent B.C. gang wars: RCMP

Police confirm the bodies found near Naramata as Erick Fryer, 29, and Carlo Fryer, 31

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Summerland’s lakeshore land should be protected

There is an opportunity to restore this important lakeshore habitat for fish and wildlife

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

Coldstream Fire Department was quick to arrive and knock down a fire Sunday, May 16, in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Coldstream fire crews quick to knock down blaze

Fire broke out just before 2:30 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road

Several RCMP cruisers stationed out front of Kelowna’s Global Fitness following a shooting on the morning of Monday, March 29. The shooting was later revealed to be gang-related. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
B.C.’s top gangs are operating in Kelowna: RCMP

‘We have all of the major gangs in Kelowna,’ said Supt. Kara Triance

Crews battled a grass fire behind the Tolko mill along the railway tracks off Otter Lake Cross Road in Spallumcheen Monday, April 26. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)
Reports of man lighting Vernon fires with blowtorch

Grassfires sparked near train tracks, behind bottle depot

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News file)
Kelowna RCMP promotion process tainted with bias: federal judge

An officer was passed over for a promotion in 2015

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Most Read