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Sunday, Jul 3, 2022
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Business

Kelowna and Vernon to slash pot shop fees

Business licensing fees for cannabis stores are higher than any other category

Kelowna and Vernon to slash pot shop fees
Spiritleaf in Vernon, BC. Image via Spiritleaf

Kelowna and Vernon are the latest B.C. municipalities to say they will lower the sky-high licensing fees cannabis retailers have had to pay over the past three years.

This week, officials from both cities confirmed or announced plans to reduce the fees.

At a regular meeting on Monday, Vernon city councillors voted to slash the application fee for a cannabis retail licence in half, to $2,500 from $5,000. They also agreed to lower the annual business licence fee in line with other retailers, with an annual rate between $115 and $800 depending on square footage.

The recommendations come from a staff report filed in December.

“Retail cannabis licensing fees within the Okanagan vary greatly with Kelowna holding the highest annual cost at $9,975,” city planner Matt Faucher said at the meeting.

“From the perspective of resource utilization, the amount of administrative resources required for processing a typical retail cannabis store application is between that of a development variance permit and a zoning amendment application, which cost $1,100 and $1,400 respectively.”

Read more: Vancouver slashing annual cannabis licence fees by 60% in 2022

Read more: West Vancouver approves first 2 cannabis stores

He noted that both of those fees are being reviewed through the lens of a cost recovery or “user pay” model, which will likely lead to increased amounts in the future.

In Kelowna, cannabis retailers will see a large fee reduction when the city brings the licensing fee in-line with other similar retail uses, planning manager Ryan Smith tells Mugglehead by email.

Currently, liquour stores pay a standard $25 application fee and a $639.22 annual licensing fee, according to the city’s bylaw.

“The change will likely occur later this year but the exact timing depends on when our new business licensing supervisor is hired and can bring the changes forward.”

Smith says Kelowna will likely review other zoning-related cannabis regulations this year as well.

In 2022, pot shops in Vancouver will pay $13,500 in annual fees, a 60-per-cent reduction from $33,958 previously — the highest in Canada. City council voted to review the fees last February.

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