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Six — not 10 — cannabis dispensaries for Coquitlam in first intake

If you want to set up a cannabis dispensary in Coquitlam, circle Jan. 4 to 14, 2022, on your calendar.
The City of Coquitlam is now considering retail shops after the federal government changed its rules around recreational cannabis sales in October 2017.

If you want to set up a cannabis dispensary in Coquitlam, circle Jan. 4 to 14, 2022, on your calendar.

Those are the 10 days when business owners can apply to the city for one of the six sites in Round 1 of its intakes for cannabis dispensaries.

Monday, council gave first reading to the proposed cannabis regulation bylaw that will go out for comment on Dec. 13, with council set to review the retail bids individually this spring.

Of the six to be considered  in the first intake: two will be for City Centre and one each in the neighbourhoods of Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville.

That’s different from this past fall when city staff recommended up to 10 cannabis retail shops in the inaugural pass; however, the number was scaled back for a more gradual introduction.

Successful applicants will need to locate their cannabis shops 150 m away from schools, while operators of cannabis production and processing facilities will require a 200 m buffer from “sensitive land uses” — residential areas, schools, parks and childminding centres.

But Coun. Brent Asmundson said he’s not sure why Coquitlam is going through a trial period given that other municipalities in Metro Vancouver have had cannabis dispensaries for years.

Port Coquitlam has two burb outlets — including its flagship store on the Mary Hill Bypass — and a government store that doubles as the province’s training centre for BC Cannabis Store workers.

A second BC Cannabis Store is due to open in PoCo along the Lougheed Highway, while Port Moody last month saw its third pot shop, The bohemian, launch to compete against burb and Kiaro.

“I don’t know why we’re doing a trial because we’ve been waiting for others to do the trial and we’ve learned from that,” Asmundson said.

He added he’s uneasy with the city regulating competition by limiting the number of dispensaries, and suggested the “restrictive” rules around craft breweries have also held Coquitlam back.

While the draft cannabis regulation framework considers rezoning, it also addresses changes to the city’s business licence, bylaw notice enforcement and municipal ticket information bylaws.

If council green-lights the policy changes, the fee for a cannabis retail zoning amendment bid would be $7,998, while a business licence would be $1,000 on top of a regular licence.

More than 1,200 responses were received earlier this year as part of the consultation.

To have your say in Coquitlam’s cannabis regulation bylaw on Dec. 13, you're encouraged to email [email protected] with “PROJ 20-110” in the subject line.

Alternatively, residents can dial in for the Zoom meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at city hall.