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City prepping for ‘intake rush’ of retail cannabis applications

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The city of Grande Prairie knows they are at the mercy of the federal government when it comes to legalization but they are trying to be ready for the inevitable. The data collected by a survey completed by the city is still being sorted but the planning process is continuing. The data will be used for general information purposes and is unlikely to heavily direct any policy.

The planning committee has a week by week plan to get them to the point of being ready to accept applications for retail cannabis locations. This week will be to meet with the city’s senior leadership team to make sure they are informed and approve of the plan that is coming together.

The following week city council will attend a workshop that is intended to supply them with all the details. Then if the plan unfolds accordingly Director of Community Living Koji Miyaji expects to present another update to the Infrastructure and Protective Services committee April 17, 2018. From there it’s expected to go before council May 22. In order to begin the accepting applications Miyaji says there will be adjustments to land use bylaws.

“Those are amendments so that this new business, if you will, this line of business, cannabis sales, retail sales, can occur. So there are some amendments that will have to be in place because that business didn’t exist before. We have to create some provisions for that.”

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Along with Land Use Bylaw updates there would also be some ‘general bylaws’ that would guide where and when people would be able to smoke pot. If those amendments are approved by council Miyaji says they could potentially start accepting applications the next day.

“Arguably May 23 is when we could start to receive applications for the various development permits required for the businesses.”

Anyone interested in a permit from the city must also apply to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission for a license. The AGLC will be monitoring retail and online sales in the province after federal legislation passes.

Miyaji knows there is still a potential wait for business owners to open their doors. He says since the provincial application process has started he thinks it’s important to get things going municipally.

“Their timelines have started already so we don’t want to unnecessarily delay things that are happening for our local businesses. So we are sensitive to that. But there are a sequence of logistical processes that have to be followed for creation of bylaws or amendments of bylaws that need to be in place.”

AGLC has applications available on their website and a thorough outline of the guidelines set out by the province in November. Miyaji says at this point they have no solid data to show the level of investors interest in GP.

“Whether it’s going to be an influx or whether it’s going to be a trickle we’re not sure. But we anticipate there will be some interest generated. Therefore we just want to be prepared for it.”

The anticipated July 1st, 2018 date of legalization has become hazy and now the feds will only commit to saying they expect it to happen this summer.

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