With legalization of recreational marijuana just two weeks away, Kelowna city council has put the final touches on its official policy dealing with dispensaries.
That will include zoning regulations, such as where pot shops can be located and how far apart they must be.
But with dozens of applications expected, there’s another level of bureaucracy would-be pot shops will have to go through: A scoring system.
City staff say there’s a reason for the system.
“We could receive anywhere between 30 and 100 applications and I don’t think council really wants to review 100 cannabis applications next year,” said Ryan Smith, the city’s community planning manager. “They want to review those that best meet the rules and are the best businesses.”
Councillor Brad Sieben says granting licences based on a scoring system leaves city councillors out of the loop, and having staff decide who makes the list is too subjective.
“I much prefer to follow what we see with liquor, where you set a bar of standards and you meet those standards and then perhaps it goes into a lottery versus putting staff in a position of being evaluators,” said Sieben. “I just think the optics of that has some trouble down the road perhaps.”
CouncillorTracy Gray feels the same way. She opposes a new requirement where applicants must submit a business plan.
“I don’t think it’s the role of any level of government to be deciding if a business is viable or not,” said Gray.
Smith added “we’re not evaluating whether or not the business plan is going to be successful; just whether or not they have one.”
The city is currently accepting applications until the end of November and will be hiring an outside consultant to help with the decision making process. The first legal pot shops in kelowna aren’t expected to open until the middle of next year.
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