Sylvan Lake is getting ready for cannabis shops.
With recreational marijuana set to be legalized in October, municipalities have been busy updating their bylaws and business licence regulations in preparation.
Sylvan Lake, like many communities, has decided that distinct licensing requirements be put in place for cannabis retailers.
Town council gave first reading this week to a bylaw requiring an $850 administrative licence be required for cannabis retailers as well as the annual $150 operational licence that is charged to more conventional businesses.
It will come back to council on Sept. 10 for second and third reading.
The 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.”
Other municipalities have taken a similar approach and have higher licence fees for cannabis-related businesses. In Camrose, a licence will cost $1,200, in Edmonton $2,500, and in Lloydminster a cannabis licence fee will cost $1,500 on top of the usual licence fee.
In some jurisdictions, cannabis retailers are treated no different than other merchants.
The new licence will address council’s concern about an Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) requirement that cannabis businesses seeking approval be required to show they had a municipal business licence. That would mean the town would have to approve a licence for a business that had not yet received provincial approval.
“We didn’t feel comfortable with handing out business licences without them being vetted by the (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission),” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet.
As a compromise, the $850 administrative licence can be issued to satisfy the AGLC’s requirement without implying the municipality had given a business the green light to start selling cannabis. That would only happen after provincial approval was received.