Municipalities chopping charges for hashish shops | Native Information

Municipalities across BC are slashing the high licensing fees charged to cannabis retailers.

This week, the Vernon City Council unanimously approved staff recommendations to halve the cost of the retail cannabis application fee from $5,000 to $2,500. The city will also reduce the annual license fee to an amount based on the square footage of each store, ranging from $115 to $800 per year, depending on size. It’s the same fee model that applies to liquor stores in the city.

“Excessive fees only hurt entrepreneurship and slow economic recovery,” said Robin Cardew, President of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce. “Our chamber last spring asked the City of Vernon to reconsider retail cannabis commercial license fees and we have kept the matter under review as the process has taken several months.”

Kelowna currently charges around $9,500, the highest annual license fee in the Okanagan for cannabis stores. But that may change in the coming months.

Ryan Smith, department head for planning and development services for the city of Kelowna, told oz., a magazine and website dedicated to the cannabis industry, that city officials will recommend that the council approve a reduction later this year. He says the fees are likely to be matched to those of liquor stores.

“The fees were high because we had to pay for staff time to implement the new cannabis program here, but we also recouped the cost of the charter and RCMP training for field sobriety testing and the like,” he says. “The province had actually promised that they would return some of that money to local governments and we’ve never seen anything like it.”

Smith says the process to lower fees has taken time as the city is in the midst of revising its building code.

Pemberton has taken a phased approach to reducing fees from $5,000 to $150 by 2023. Dawson Creek has reduced fees from $2,500 to $625 to align with the liquor store license fee. Chilliwack plans to lower its fee from $10,000 to $2,500 this year.

Victoria is considering cutting its annual royalties from $5,000 to $280, according to a report presented to a council committee on Thursday.

Last year Vancouver lowered its filing fee from $34,000 to $13,500. (It’s still the highest fee in BC, though the city is considering lowering the fee to $5,000 in 2023.)

— the oz./