PoCo now accepting pot shop applications

It’s open season for entrepreneurs wanting to set up a recreational pot shop in Port Coquitlam.

It’s open season for entrepreneurs wanting to set up a recreational pot shop in Port Coquitlam.

Today (Wednesday), the day after council adopted new regulations to site and control retail cannabis stores in the community, city staff posted forms online for business owners to download to apply.

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Interest in the application process has been relatively high, PoCo planning manager Jennifer Little told The Tri-City News Tuesday, with owners inquiring about the new rules for rezoning, development procedures and bylaw notice enforcement, among other things.

Under the council-approved plan — the first in the Tri-Cities — entrepreneurs have 30 days to submit their bids for a cannabis outlet.

After the March 6 deadline, city staff will review the applications and assess each based on the strict criteria; recommendations will then be made to city council and public hearings will be held.

In general, the city’s policy for siting pot shops will follow the liquor sales framework — that is, with stores about a kilometre apart. Outlets must also be at least 250 metres away from a school, playground, community centre or sports field.

Other factors taken into consideration are: distance to public gathering places, child care facilities, recovery homes and emergency shelters; potential impacts to neighbourhood residents; traffic implications; parking availability; proximity to public transit; and exterior design.

Last night, after council amended its bylaws following a public hearing that saw no speakers, several business owners stayed behind to glad-hand with city councillors and talk about their proposals.

Among them was Steve Dowsley, a Riverside secondary grad who co-founded — and is the CFO of — burb.

His company has secured two locations in PoCo to sell clothing; however, he said, if it’s successful with its city applications, the stores will turn into cannabis shops to sell government-regulated weed.

burb’s stores will open in commercial strip malls at Mary Hill bypass/Broadway Street and at Lougheed/Westwood, near Pomme.

The mall owners and neighbours “have given us an overwhelmingly positive response” should burb’s stores sell recreational cannabis, said Dowsley, a Maple Ridge resident.

The federal government legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018.

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