Two proposed cannabis shops in New Westminster are heading to public hearings this month.
On June 24, council will consider applications for two of the five initial cannabis shops being considered in the city: Muse Cannabis at 532 Sixth St., and Westcanna at 710 12th St. After receiving 22 applications for cannabis retail stores, the city ranked the applicants and selected five applications in different commercial areas for consideration at public hearing.
While five applications have received first and second reading, the city has been holding off on scheduling public hearings until it receives the results of the financial integrity and security program checks from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Having received the financial integrity and security checks for two of the five applications, the city has been able to schedule public hearings for those applications, said Emilie Adin, the city’s director of development services.
Mike Watson, a planner with the city, said the city has received checks back from the province for about half-a-dozen of the 22 applicants, but only two of the five that have been given first and second reading. Thus far, he said the LCRB hasn’t identified any concerns with any of the applications.
“Once rezoning is complete, there are a number of steps for the applicants to complete, including finalizing the process with the LCRB, finalizing the business licence, obtaining building permits for any tenant improvements, ordering stock, hiring staff, etc.,” Watson said. “As much of this is outside of the city’s control, we don’t know what that timeframe would be.”
While it’s possible these two stores could open in the fall if council approves the rezoning applications, Watson said many of the remaining steps are outside of the city’s control and the city doesn’t know what the timeframe for those steps would be.
If council supports the applications following the June 24 public hearing, there is still a series of approvals from the city and the province required before shops are able to open. Those steps include: getting LCRB approvals in principle; receiving city building permits for things like signs, etc.; having a business licence; and getting LCRB’s final approval of the application.
“Even for the province, it’s not final approval – they are saying they have passed the security checks,” Adin said of the information received to date from the province. “There is more to come provincially as well. I can’t even speak how long it would take because there are so many aspects. There’s the zoning, the business licensing and the provincial approvals. All three processes need to pass the finish line in order for them to be fully approved.”
According to the provincial government’s website, all applicants for a non-medical cannabis retail licence must undergo security screening, including criminal and police record checks, and financial integrity checks. This includes screening of associates of the applicant and other persons connected to the applicant or associate.
A financial integrity connects information about applicants and their associates: past addresses, employment history, corporate associations and any disciplinary actions; financial accounts, taxes and loans; connections to federal producers of cannabis; and connection, association or financial interest in another cannabis applications. Applicants and their associates must also provide a statement describing all of their assets and liabilities for the past three years, their income tax returns for the last three years for each jurisdiction in which they filed, and their Notice of Assessment (or its equivalent from each jurisdiction) for the last three years
The province’s website states that some applicants and associates may be asked for other information, including credit bureau reports and details about dispute resolution, litigation, and court and bankruptcy proceedings.