Sophie Reid, owner of the Cowichan Valley Access Centre marijuana dispensary on Allenby Road, said the site has undergone renovations and is now waiting for the final approval from the province to be issued a business licence. (File photo)

Cowichan Valley pot stores slowly grind through application processes

Many may still face months of waiting before final answer

What could be the Cowichan Valley’s first legal recreational marijuana store is waiting for final approval of a retail licence to operate from the province.

The application for the store at 3050 Allenby Rd., which is in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Electoral Area E, has recently received support from the CVRD’s board after a successful review and background check of the application by the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

RELATED STORY: TWO APPLICATIONS FOR POT SHOPS IN VALLEY APPROVED BY PROVINCE SO FAR

Mike Tippett, the CVRD’s manager of community planning, said the district has done its due diligence with the application and it has now gone back to the province for final approval for a business licence.

The site is the former location of the Cowichan Valley Access Centre marijuana dispensary, which closed on Oct. 17 along with the approximately seven other pot shops in the Valley that were operating illegally when recreational pot became legal in Canada.

“It’s now in the hands of the province, but we have no idea when the store will receive a business licence,” Tippett said.

A media spokesman for the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch said the application will go through final background and security checks, and a final inspection to make sure the location is up to standards.

“There are no timelines as to when a licence will be issued,” said the spokesman.

“It’s a brand new licensing process so we’re not estimating when it will be complete.”

Sophie Reid, who owns the Cowichan Valley Access Centre marijuana dispensary, said she expects she’ll know whether she will receive a business licence within weeks, but cautioned that she was told it may take up until May for a licence to be finally issued.

“The CVRD has written us letters of support, as well as some RCMP officers that knew our operation,” Reid said. “We just finished some renovations at the store and my staff has all their security clearances. The store is ready to go and we’re just waiting for the licence.”

Keith Batstone, a planning coordinator for the CVRD, said the district currently has three more applications for recreational pot shops that have to go through rezoning as part of the process.

The Cowichan Valley Access Centre is already in an area that the CVRD has zoned as appropriate for a marijuana dispensary.

“Based on the number of inquiries over the last few months, we’re expecting at least six more appliations for recreational marijuana stores, plus a number of production facilities,” Batstone said.

“The CVRD is considering looking at a different approach to accommodating marijuana dispensaries as the current process is taking too long. We expect the first stores that will open will be judged on their merits and once they are established, the process will likely become easier.”

Of the six applications for retail pot stores submitted to the Municipality of North Cowichan, one has been withdrawn because it didn’t meet aspects of the Cannabis Retail Sales Policy.

RELATED STORY: POT SHOPS WILL HAVE TO COME BEFORE COUNCIL BEFORE SETTING UP IN N. COWICHAN

Chris Hutton, North Cowichan’s community planning coordinator, said two of the applications have undergone successful reviews by the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch and are now going through a 30-day referral period in which the RCMP, the Cowichan Valley school district and neighbouring communities are invited to provide feedback on the applications.

All the remaining applications have now been reviewed against the Cannabis Retail Sales Policy and responses have been distributed to applicants.

“I can’t say for sure, but I’d guess that the actual issuance of any business licences is still about six months away,” Hutton said.

“It’s a land-use issue for the municipality, but the province still has to do all its security and other checks. It’s a bit complicated as the municipal and provincial regulatory processes on marijuana retail stores are running side by side. It’s an entirely new industry and all levels of bureaucracy are still trying to figure out how to deal with the front of end of things. I expect that the processes will get easier over time.”

The City of Duncan received 11 applications for marijuana retail stores by the deadline of Feb. 1 under its new pilot program.

The plan is for up to three applicants to be considered as part of the pilot project with whom the city will enter into further discussions to determine if they will receive temporary use permits to operate pot shops in Duncan, if the province gives the city the thumbs up to consider them.

Peter de Verteuil, Duncan’s CAO, said it will take considerable time to review the applications.

“A date for a report to council has not yet been set,” he said. “I would not expect anything before the end of March.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cowichan 49ers return to Tony Grover Cup final

The Cowichan 49ers are back in the Tony Grover Cup final after… Continue reading

Nanaimo rink wins Duncan mixed bonspiel

Many local teams in the mix

Flu outbreak at Cowichan District Hospital

42 people diagnosed at facility since March 15

LEXI BAINAS COLUMN: Bikers, dreadlocks, and all that jazz

From happenings down on the farm to how to hang your self: get it all here

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Coming up in Cowichan: World Water Day

Shawnigan Lake marks World Water Day Got clean local water? “The ability… Continue reading

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Most Read