Vernon trims retail cannabis application, licensing fees

Cannabis for sale in the retail market. The City of Vernon plans to reduce its application and licensing fees. Black Press file photo

The City of Vernon is bringing in line its retail cannabis application and licensing fees.

Staff presented council with a report calling for fees to be reduced by 50 per cent from $5,000 to $2,500, which lowers the cost and aligns with a ‘user pay’ fee structure.

The annual licensing fee will also be reduced to align with the same rate for a retail liquor store as it falls in the same business classification as all other retail stores with rates based on square metres of retail space. That fee would be between $115 and $800 annually, depending on space.

“Retail cannabis licensing fees within the Okanagan vary greatly with Kelowna holding the highest annual cost at $9,975,” planner Matt Faucher told council at its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 10.

“From the perspective of resource utilization, the amount of administrative resources required for processing a typical retail cannabis store application is between that of a Development Variance Permit and a Zoning Amendment application, which cost $1,100 and $1,400 respectively.

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“It is noted that both of these fees are currently being reviewed through the lens of a cost recovery or a ‘user pay’ model which is likely to result in increased application fees for both processes in the future.”

When Coun. Kari Gares asked Faucher if those retail cannabis stores in operation in the city who went through the original process would be reimbursed for the new fees, Faucher said, “yes.”

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce president Robin Cardew praised council for its work on the matter.

“We thank the City of Vernon for recognizing the need for equity among all retail businesses no matter the product they sell, and this amended policy demonstrates that private sector investment is welcome in Vernon,” said Cardew, whose organization urged the city last spring to reconsider business licence fees for retail cannabis.

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