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Vancouver Island region has 19 pending applications for private pot stores

Another 23 applications are in the works, but incomplete
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the provincial government has sent 62 applications for private marijuana retailers to local authorities for approval. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Nineteen applicants await final local approval for selling recreational marijuana in the Vancouver Island region.

Locations of those 19 applications awaiting local approval is unclear, as the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) will not release statistics for specific communities, citing privacy and competition reasons. Counting incomplete applications, a total of 42 have been made from the administrative region of Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Gulf Islands.

RELATED: Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

Carolyn Mushata, the District of Sooke’s corporate officer, said the municipality has received one application — from Riverside Cannabis — but she said it is far too early to determine when the district will consider the application.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday the province has received 173 paid applications for private cannabis retailers. Of those, 111 applicants have paid the $7,500 application fee, but their applications remain incomplete. Once completed, the provincial government will forward their applications for local approval.

Overall, the provincial government has sent 62 applications to local authorities (including First Nations) for final assent before they can legally sell marijuana, according to figures from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). Of the 62, 35 are in jurisdictions that have indicated that they are “ready” to licence stores, Farnworth said.

RELATED: Marijuana roll out will be challenging, new territory for everyone: Horgan

Compared to other regions, the region that includes Vancouver Island appears leads all regions in terms of applications, except for the North and Interior, from where the province has received a total of 72 applications, with 29 applications awaiting final approval.

Budding recreational marijuana entrepreneurs from Greater Vancouver and Sunshine Coast have submitted 34 paid applications, with 10 awaiting local approval.

Notably, one of B.C.’s top agricultural regions is dragging its feet when it comes to entering the marijuana industry. As of Oct. 10, 2018, the provincial government has received 11 applications from Surrey and the Fraser Valley, with four referred to final approval.

The provincial government has also received 14 paid applications from a location not yet specified.

With the Canada-wide legalization of marijuana arriving today, the provincial government has yet to issue a single private retail license. British Columbians can apply to purchase marijuana through the government’s online sales systems. One bricks-and-mortar government store in Kamloops is operational.

The VI Free Daily is reaching out to various communities on the Island to determine whether they are considering any applications in the near future, and will update story accordingly.

One Greater Victoria community that will not definitely approve any private retail operation in the near future is Saanich.

The region’s largest municipality this summer issued a “full” prohibition of the sale, production and distribution of recreational cannabis until staff have had an opportunity to review federal and provincial legislation.

RELATED: Update: Saanich puts lid on future pot sales for now

“At this time, staff recommend the prohibition of sale, production [and] distribution of recreational cannabis,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning in the report at the time.

Cited reasons include what Hvozdanski called a “[lack] of detailed information” from federal and provincial officials. “This is a fast-moving and evolving issue and information continues to be released,” she said.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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