A proposed bylaw amendment would lift the cap on cannabis retailers in Grande Prairie owning more than one store in the municipality. Currently, the Business Licence Bylaw contains a limitation that only one business licence can be issued per separate corporate entity.
Haze Inc Co-Owner Rae-Lynne Porter told members of the Infrastructure & Economic Development Committee Tuesday that in its current form, the bylaw could potentially restrict organic growth for local companies. She adds it could also potentially be used by large corporations to open several different locations under different headings.
“What the bylaw has done is create a loophole for companies with access to more capital, they’re able to buy these licenses if that’s what necessary, [and] it just puts an undue amount of financial burden on us if we’re trying to grow our brand in comparison,” she says. “In no other industry does council require the same or similar bylaw; it feels very biased in our industry.”
President of Peaceleaf Cannabis Lucas Hinks adds the current bylaw could be hit or miss for a budding business and depends on a number of factors.
“For us, we would be okay if that bylaw went away, but we’ve been around for a year and a half,” he says. “We’ve been able to establish our business and brand and have the capital to expand. Whereas another company, if they are in the position we were in, it could have put the nail in our coffin.”
Manager of Planning and Development with the City of Grande Prairie Joe Johnson says the recommendation was made in 2019, the year anniversary of the legalization of cannabis in Canada. He adds, after members of the committee voted the item down last year, it was returned to the table after continued consultation with stakeholders in the cannabis industry.
“Let’s say there are 15 stores in Grande Prairie with 15 individual owners, or 15 stores with 12 different owners, I don’t think that makes a difference to the community as a whole,” he says.
“I don’t see any merit to the city regulating the number of business licenses per corporate entity for cannabis when it doesn’t do it for any other industry.”
The proposed amendment was passed unanimously by members of the committee on Tuesday and will face a full debate by members of city council next week.