RDN to add fee for cannabis retail applications

Staff expects high volume of applicants after recreational cannabis is legalized

The Regional District of Nanaimo is setting new fees to deal with future applications for a non-medical cannabis retail licence.

The provincial government has already established a framework for the retail sale of non-medical cannabis, which requires local governments to provide a resolution whether or not they support a licence application. At present, the regional district does not charge any fees to review applications for non-medical cannabis (NMC) retail licences.

With the federal government getting ready to legalize cannabis this year, staff is bracing for a high number of applicants that they will need to deal with. Jeremy Holm, the RDN’s manager of current planning, reported to the Electoral Area Services Committee on March 13 that the review process of NMC applications will have implications on the community planning’s budget.

Whether private or public, all NMC retail stores will be subject to a similiar set of rules as liquor stores now, and the process will go through the Liquor Distribution Branch, which is responsible for licensing and enforcement.

According to the province, all applications must have the support of local governments for the proposed location of each store. That would require the regional district or municipalities to review the applications, seek input from residents on the impact an NMC store will have in their immediate neighbourhood, and provide a resolution on whether they support the application or not.

Staff recommended to the committee a fee be added in the application process, as well as a charge to applicants to pay for the advertising required. As well, a fee will be applied for land-use confirmation requests related to proposed cannabis production facilities. Applicants will have to dole out $4,000 for the review and also make an advertising deposit of $1,000.

Holm also explained that, although local governments are not required to review licence applications to Health Canada for cannabis production facilities, applicants are required, as part of due diligence, to find out if the location of their cannabis facility is allowed under the local land use regulations.

At present, the RDN charges a $40 fee for those requesting a land use confirmation letter but staff are recommending that a fee of $500 be established specifically for requests for the land use confirmation letter for cannabis production facilities.

The committee endorsed the amendment bylaw to be introduced and read three times and also recommended adoption of the proposed services and fees.

Send story tips to: michael.briones@pqbnews.com

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