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Business hopes on the line as Calgary reviews cannabis store applications

Business hopes on the line as Calgary reviews cannabis store applications

The City of Calgary has started reviewing 261 development permit applications for cannabis stores, and officials say prospective retailers can expect to hear a decision by Aug. 10.

As they launched the review Monday, city officials said applications will need to comply with city land-use rules, such as separation distances from schools. Staff will also be monitoring the concentration of cannabis stores in neighbourhoods.

“We’ll be looking at … population and the number of stores in each community here in Calgary to avoid that over-concentration of cannabis stores in one area,” said senior special projects officer Brandy MacInnis.

Factors in the review will also include whether the location meets the separation distance requirements of provincial regulations, comments from citizens and the compatibility with the community where the business is proposed.

Provincial regulations require cannabis retailers to be 100 metres away from schools and provincial health care facilities.

Under city regulations, a 150-metre separation distance is required from the property line of schools and emergency shelters; 300 metres is required between cannabis stores, although the development authority has some leeway to make decisions on individual cases; a 30-metre separation is mandated from a place of worship, pawn shop or payday loan business, and a 10-metre separation is required from a child care service.

Once an application for a cannabis store has been approved, there will be a three-week appeal period, the city said. If there are no appeals, the applicant can then seek building permits and business licensing.

The 261 active applications are expected to be reviewed by Aug. 10.

Darren Bondar, CEO of Inner Spirit Holdings, said this will give companies about 60 days to build stores before recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

“But October 17 is the start date, not the finish date,” he noted. “It should be an interesting couple months.”

Bondar’s company applied for cannabis stores in 22 locations across the city. He said he doesn’t expect that all of those will necessarily get approved.

“I think that we’ll have some degree of success,” he said.

Angus Taylor, CAO of NewLeaf Cannabis, said the 21-day waiting period for appeals adds an extra challenge in terms of timing. His company has submitted 18 applications for development permits in Calgary.

“It’s tight but it still should be enough time,” Taylor said. “We have quite a few stores to build in Calgary, so every day that we’re not building makes it more challenging for us to get all of our stores complete on time.”

While officials expect to continue receiving new applications beyond the 261 currently being reviewed, Taylor noted the city is getting “quite full” of proposed retail locations.

“The number of open locations that don’t have a cannabis store in them at this point, I would say, are few — and certainly not very many excellent locations are available any longer,” he said.

Full story is available here.

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