Pot shop now open in PoCo, a first for the Tri-Cities

Burb opened its flagship store on Broadway Street and Mary Hill bypass on Wednesday; its grand opening is Saturday at 11 a.m.

The Tri-Cities has its first private pot shop and the second will open next week.

Today (Wednesday), burb started selling recreational cannabis at its flagship store, located at Broadway Street and Mary Hill bypass, after being awarded two licences last Tuesday by the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Its “express” shop is in PoCo Place, a strip mall at Westwood Street and Lougheed Highway.

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The burb outlets will be the third and fourth private cannabis stores in the Surrey/Fraser Valley jurisdiction: Maple Ridge saw the opening of Spiritleaf in ValleyFair mall in April while Kure Cannabis Society started in May in Chilliwack, operating on the Skwah First Nation reserve. Westcanna in New Westminster has also been given municipal and provincial green lights but has yet to open its doors.

Port Coquitlam resident Steve Dowsley, who co-owns burb with PoCo’s John Kaye and Clayton Chessa, a Surrey resident, said the company also plans to open a third cannabis retail store in Port Moody; the deadline for rezoning applications is Monday, based on LCRB approval.

By 2021, burb’s goal is to open eight retail stores in B.C., Dowsley said.

During a sneak peek of its 3,700-sq. ft. Broadway Street outlet Tuesday — just as the first shipment of government-controlled pot arrived and before the grand opening Saturday — Dowsley and Chessa talked about burb’s business model, the products it will sell prior to the roll-out of Cannabis Legalization 2.0 on Oct. 17 (when edibles, concentrates and topicals will become available to the public) and how they intend to make their mark in the Tri-Cities.

Under PoCo’s municipal regulations, burb will be required to give a $2,500 annual scholarship to a graduating student in the city as well as a $5,000 charitable donation to the Port Coquitlam Community Foundation for each of its stores. As well, it will follow through on its promise to pay a living wage to its full-time employees and help with community projects. Recently, employees cleaned up the shores of the Coquitlam River and supported a cancer fundraiser, Chessa said.

Mayor Brad West told The Tri-City News Tuesday he’s pleased burb's licence came through, although he won’t be purchasing any of its goods. He also anticipates an influx of visitors to PoCo because of the “novelty factor.”

“I’m quite pleased with the process that we went through to get this done,” he said. “We have common-sense policies that were followed through to the end. The province was quick to approve and now the stores are open. It shows that we’ve got our stuff together.”

Initially, burb will have about 40 staff at its two locations, which will be open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. One worker will be at the door to welcome guests, check IDs and scan to see if visitors are under the influence, Dowsley said.

All burb workers have gone through security training, Dowsley said. As part of its provincial application, burb submitted a 75-page security report to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General; another lengthy report on financing went to the Ministry of Attorney General.

As for its products, burb will offer a rotating crop of 18 strains — with varying degrees of TCH, CBD and tepenes — plus pre-rolled joints, oils, gel capsules and sprays. It’ll also have iPads for customers to browse through the inventory, and smell jars at the counter. Its product will also be for sale online via shopburb.com.

But burb's apparel, which it sold prior to getting the licence, is no longer for sale. Dowsley said the LCRB doesn’t allow clothes to mix with cannabis in retail outlets.

Meanwhile, the two public cannabis stores also approved by PoCo city council won’t be open for a while. The BC Cannabis Store at Oxford Crossing, in the same area as No Frills, has yet to see a shovel in the ground. “At this time, we have no firm dates on when this store will open,” said Kate Bilney, a spokesperson for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

And LDB’s bid for its Nicola Avenue location will return to city council for another public hearing; on July 23, council returned that application to city staff to provide more details on the size of the proposed outlet.

As for the production of goods made with cannabis extracts, PoCo city council will consider first reading of a zoning bylaw amendment at its Oct. 8 meeting. 

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