Prospective pot retailer concerned with aspects of proposal to use lottery to decide who gets Edmonton shop licenses

The City of Edmonton presented proposed zoning bylaw changes to accommodate cannabis stores at a public hearing on Monday and a day later, a head of a business hoping to sell recreational pot in the city said he is disappointed with some of what the city is considering.

City councillors have been asked to consider approving a cannabis bylaw proposal that would use a lottery-type scheme to decide who gets a development permit to sell marijuana once its recreational use becomes legal in Canada.

READ MORE: Edmonton committee to debate permit, licensing fees for recreational pot shops

Watch below: In April, Julia Wong filed this report about a report heading to an Edmonton committee for debate that recommends the development permit and licensing fees for cannabis stores should cost applicants $8,100.

Nathan Mison, vice-president of government and stakeholder relations with Fire & Flower, told Global News on Tuesday that the current lottery system proposal provides too much uncertainty for potential cannabis retailers like his company.

“Our concern was the creation of a draft lottery process in which there’s an expression of interest period where organizations can put in an expression of interest…and be put into a randomized lottery,” he said.

City administrators argue a lottery-type system for licenses would make decision-making more impartial.

Mison said he doesn’t like that retailers like Fire & Flower, who have already gone through an approval process through the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), aren’t given any advantage over license applicants who haven’t gone through the AGLC first.

He lamented the “unfairness this process creates for… those who have put money forward, who are paying leases, who are paying out of their savings.”

The AGLC decides who to approve for the provincial operating licenses but the City of Edmonton gives out development permits and business licenses.

Mison said Fire & Flower has 16 locations planned for Alberta’s capital and the uncertainty over licensing is a concern as his company plans to spend $15 million to set up operations.

“The timing is a challenge… we don’t know when things will happen. So any delay is a significant delay. Any uncertainty is a significant uncertainty.”

Mison said he is looking for a “clear path to move forward” and that despite concerns about the licensing process, he supports other aspects of the cannabis bylaw proposal he heard Monday.

Among other elements of the proposed cannabis plan are for there to be 200 metres between a cannabis store and a school or public library, 100 metres between a cannabis store and a park, recreation centre, or provincial health-care facility and 200 metres between cannabis stores.

“A balanced approach to separation distances will address concerns about incompatibility of cannabis stores and places where minors gather, and the impacts of
clustering cannabis stores,” reads city administrators’ recommendations. “The proposed framework represents a sensitive and calibrated outcome aligned with city objectives, which provides evenly distributed opportunities and balanced outcomes.

“The proposed land-use framework can be revisited in future years when the city has more experience and data.”

On Tuesday, council did approve the part of its cannabis plan that regulates when stores can be open. Cannabis stores can be open between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week. The operators of those stores can set their hours within that block of time.

READ MORE: City council committee discusses how late to allow cannabis stores to stay open in Edmonton

Watch below: On May 1, 2018, Kendra Slugoski filed this report about the City of Edmonton mapping out how cannabis and the stores that sell it will be allowed to operate.

The other proposed bylaw amendments went through two readings on Monday but the third reading has been postponed until June 12, in part because the Senate is voting on marijuana legalization on June 7 and also so the Urban Planning Committee can take a look at some of the concerns brought up at Monday’s hearing first.

“We’re asking for some patience,” Colton Kirsop, a senior planner with City of Edmonton, said on Tuesday. “We’re still not sure what the actual date of legalization is.”

Kirsop said right now, prospective pot retailers will have to wait to apply to the city but said he expects somehwere between 90 and 200 applications to be submitted.

READ MORE: 452 applications received so far for Alberta cannabis retail stores

Watch below: On April 20, 2018, Kim Smith filed this report about how this year’s 4/20 celebration is expected to be the last one before recreational marijuana becomes legal.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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