Kelowna city council has adopted a process for dealing with the first wave of applications for cannabis retailers.
But not all councilors are behind the final strategy, as Couns. Tracy Gran, Brad Sieben and Charlie Hodge were opposed to plan outlined by planning director Ryan Smith at Monday’s council meeting.
Gray felt the scoring matrix upon how all applications will be judged initially was beyond the scope of municipal governance, when passing consideration on the merits of a business plan, a market analysis or how well an application meets provincial regulations standards upon which city council has no direct authority.
“With some of this, we are really going into the weeds in areas that are not where our authority lies,” Gray said.
Sieben questioned different people coming in and out of the application approval process changing perhaps how different submissions are judged, while Hodge questioned if past non-compliance with city bylaws should be a component of this specific process.
Smith told council the initial approval process was created to face what is expected to be a significant response in business license applications to sell cannabis in Kelowna, likely more than most other community in B.C.
“Municipalities are all finding our own way into new territory with this and looking at how each other for how we are going to deal with the initial wave of applications. What we are looking for is to create a transparent and fair system for evaluating the initial influx of applications,” he said.
The city officially began accepting applications from prospective cannabis retailers on Monday, a process that will continue until Nov. 30. Those received will be scored and evaluated for the initial round of approvals by a seven-person committee comprised of city staff and RCMP.
An independent consultant will also be hired to oversee the evaluation and priortization process to ensure transparency and fairness for all applicants.
The timeline for completion of that evaluation is expected to be early in 2019.
How many are approved initially will depend on the number of completed applications that are received and follow the regionals established in the city zoning bylaws pertaining to cannabis retail shops.
Where two applications for a similar location score equally, priority will be given on the basis of a lottery draw.
“Not all applications accepted initially will be automatically approved as council as each application will be decided on its own merits by council,” Smith said.
After the initial wave of applications is processed, the city expects to resume dealing with retail cannabis sale applications on a normal case-by-case basis.
Potential retailers will be charged $1,000 just to apply, and more than $9,000 if the application is approved.