The B.C. government intends to set up a cannabis retail outlet in Salmon Arm.
At the city development and planning meeting of Monday, Jan. 21, council received a staff report detailing the proposed B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) outlet, to be set up in a yet-to-be-constructed building near Dollarama on the SmartCentres site at the west end of town.
Development services director Kevin Pearson noted this is the seventh application received by the city for a cannabis retail outlet, five of which have received council’s support.
Unlike the previous applicants in the process of acquiring a licence from the province’s Liquor Cannabis Regulation Branch, Pearson explained public cannabis stores operated by BCLDB are authorized under different legislation and do not require a licence. Instead, the BCLDB is encouraged to work with local governments that are interested in having public cannabis stores in their jurisdiction.
City zoning and policy supports a cannabis retail store in the proposed location, and the new building will be about 15,000 square feet, with the cannabis retail store taking up approximately 3,000 square feet.
“There is only one other provincial store I’m aware of, in Kamloops…,” said Pearson. “If this is approved… I have some correspondence from the manager of SmartCentres who says they would like to start constructing that building… in the fall of this year.”
Asked about product pricing, BCLBD representative Kam Aujla told council, “the way the price is set up right now, cannabis licensed producers that are licensed by Health Canada, they give us the supplier price, and unlike liquor where we don’t usually negotiate the supplier price, we try our best in the B.C. government to negotiate it as low as you can possibly go with those prices, and in addition to that, the province adds a 15 per cent wholesale mark-up, and on top of that retail stores look at their own mark-up…
“I can just say, right now, there’s not a lot of profit in cannabis, the prices are quite high, the supplier prices, and we’re hoping as the years go on that they’ll get lower to eliminate the illicit market. But the intent is to keep prices low.”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond asked Aujla who she thinks this market will serve, given the landscape that currently exists with four stores in the downtown and one in Canoe.
“I understand you had four applications in the downtown core, that’s why we were looking at this specific site – it’s a little bit farther away, because you know obviously you don’t want to go into an over-saturated market as well,” replied Aujla. “We did have a desire to look at a store in Salmon Arm, because we were directed… to go into several different communities, Salmon Arm being one of them. And we hope to bring in customers outside of this area as well.”
Council voted to support the BCLBD application, which will proceed to a public hearing on Jan. 28.