Town of Sylvan Lake passed a new bylaw specifically aimed at regulating future cannabis retailers.
And not a moment too soon it seems.
Several cannabis-minded business people are already scheduled to go before the town’s municipal planning commission next Monday to seek development permit approval. If granted, applicants can then apply through the business licensing bylaw approved by council on Monday.
The bylaw requires an $850 administrative licence be required for cannabis retailers as well as the annual $150 operational licence that is charged to more conventional businesses. An operational licence can only be approved after the applicant has already lined up all of the necessary Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission approvals.
Sylvan Lake’s additional licence charge is meant to reflect the extra work dealing with cannabis is expected to mean for town staff.
“The introduction of cannabis retail sales has created an increase in the amount of work required by administration,” says a staff report to council. “Some of these additional costs associated will be captured with the two-part licensing fees being introduced in the bylaw.”
Ken Kalirai, town director of planning and development, said the town’s approach protects the community.
“The two-part licensing process protects the interests of the municipality in that it ensures no cannabis retail sales business operates within the community without first receiving provincial approval – a process that includes a rigorous background check,” said Kalirai.
Town communications officer Joanne Gaudet agreed the system provides a measure of security.
“We have the comfort of knowing they will have to go through (the AGLC’s) background check process,” said Gaudet.
Should a cannabis business change hands, the administrative licence expires and the new potential owner would also have to go through the same process.
Stiff penalties have been added to the bylaw to ensure that cannabis retailers get their operating licence. Selling cannabis without a licence can net fines of $2,500 per day.
While there has clearly been early interest in the opportunities connected with commercial cannabis the town does not expect a flood of applications.
“I don’t think a lot,” she said, adding some of those coming forward may not be approved and other applicants may be only testing the waters.
The town began accepting applications on Aug. 13 and they will be reviewed in order of application.
To get development approval, cannabis retailers must be located in areas zoned for those kinds of businesses such as highway commercial and certain neighbourhood commercial areas as well as part of Centennial Street. Cannabis retailers will not be allowed on the main Lakeshore Drive drag.
Cannabis retailers are also not allowed within 150 metres of facilities such as schools, health care and recreation facilities, playgrounds or other cannabis retailers.
A checklist for potential cannabis retail applicants has been put on the town’s website at www.sylvanlake.ca.