The City of Penticton is moving to a capped system for its cannabis retail stores, meaning only 10 more businesses will be permitted to set up shop in the city.
During a city council meeting, on May 21,council voted to amend the city’s cannabis retail sales policy to allow a total of 14 cannabis stores in the city, seven in the downtown and seven outside of it.
Previously, the city relied on a buffer zone and scoring matrix to limit the number of cannabis retail stores, but council took issue with this method because, in some instances, stores with lower matrix scores were being recommended over stores with higher ones.
“I have always believed that the market should dictate which of these businesses survive and which of them don’t,” said Coun. Campbell Watt. “Having said that, I think that we’re actually taking baby steps to finally accomplish that. It seems like we’re moving from large buffers to no buffers with a cap.”
During May 16 meeting, council approved four cannabis stores – Green Gaia, Cannabis Cottage, Spiritleaf and B.C. Cannabis Store – and deferred four other applications which came into conflict with the previous policy’s approval process due to their locations within the buffer zone. As a result of this amendment, council will have the chance to review these deferred applications for approval or denial at a future meeting.
“There was some concern expressed by council (on May 16) that the buffering zones were creating mini monopolies around each store and not creating enough competition amongst the stores,” said Blake Laven, the city’s planning manager.
Coun. Katie Robinson was not in favour of the policy change, and repeatedly referred back to the 2018 public consultation the city conducted which found that the majority of participants wanted to move slowly with permitting cannabis sales in Penticton. It was noted that 28 per cent of participants said they’d like to see less cannabis stores than liquor stores, while the rest either wanted no limit or just as many cannabis stores as liquor stores.
“They said yes they want it now that it’s legal, but with limitations. And (the previous policy) gave us those limitations,” said Robinson
Of the four cannabis stores already approved, two are located in the downtown and two are not. Watt said he’d like to see the cap eventually lifted once a few stores are open, in order to let the market dictate which businesses will succeed, and to garner new public feedback on the cannabis retail sales policy.
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