Like its namesake Godzilla of monster movie fame, Budzilla knows a thing or two about battling a city.
In this case the city of Vancouver rather than Tokyo, Osaka or San Francisco.
It’s been half a year since the bustling East Van business specializing in edible cannabis products was locked out by its nervous landlord on July 12, but owner Rejean Houle says he expects to re-eopen the original location at 2267 Kingsway by Dec. 12.
“When I came back into the store a couple of days ago, it was like a time warp because we were in summer mode and barbecue season back then” said Houle in a phone interview Friday. “We are actually open now but we are mostly doing renovations and also updating equipment and cleaning up six months’ worth of dust.”
The problems with his landlord began after Houle was denied a business license.
“The city of Vancouver started issuing fines [to unlicensed dispensaries] and the landlord got so freaked out and, coupled with the fact they had sent them the letter of refusal for us getting us a business license, that was enough for the landlord to terminate our lease.”
He successfully appealed the city’s decision in October by going through the Board of Variance.
Budzilla Dispensary Clinic was originally denied a chance to go through the city’s licensing system after losing out in the “de-clustering” process set up by officials to determine which applicant will advance when more than two dispensaries are within 300 metres of one another. Houle’s application received more demerit points than another applicant in the area that had not yet opened at the time. Houle received 17 demerits for his application, including 10 for operating as a for-profit business and three for doing work on the space without a permit. Budzilla was also given four demerits for having a “location considered a problem premise” by the Vancouver Police Department.
The other dispensary ultimately withdrew its application.
“After the Board of Variance cleared us, we had to make basically as legal as possible. So everything needs to be spelled out, every word needs to be scrutinized because it is legalese, so it took since the Board of Variance until now be able to secure the termination of the previous lease.”
Houle said he spent roughly a quarter of a million dollars fighting the decision while juggling other projects, including running the cafe-style Budzilla Skylounge a few blocks away at 2121 Kingsway under a different landlord. He said that while the whole process has been stressful, he doesn’t entirely blame the owner of the original location.
“It has been very difficult and could have been avoided if the landlord had been more receptive but at the same time I understand that when you are threatened by the city, it can be very scary. They did act irrationally by terminating our lease but I need to bury the hatchet and make peace so we can move forward with the business.”
He added that he was grateful for the assistance of Jade Maple, a media and outsourcing company focused on the cannabis industry, in helping get the original Budzilla back in business again.
“Jade Maple has been the corporate management company that takes care of Budzilla’s affairs an they’ve done a lot of helpful services. They take care of my general legal needs and helped us negotiate at the board of variance. What my specialty is is cannabis but when it comes to law and managing, these guys take care of that.”