The City of Vancouver has announced the first phase of its licensing program is over.
Out of 176 applications to run, or continue running dispensaries, only 11 were approved to progress to the next step.
Too close to one another, an additional 30 dispensaries will also now enter a “declustering” process, where, after being graded on a number of elements, the city will also allow some to stay open.
That leaves 135 current and proposed dispensaries with two official options – find a new location and continue the application process or shut down.
If dispensaries are currently in operation they will have a six-month grace period before they become “subject to enforcement action.”
The city promises to use a “range of enforcement tools, including fines and legal action” for those businesses that don’t comply.
But, with such a high number of dispensaries potentially violating bylaws all at once, city resources may be strained.
Councillor Geoff Meggs said he doesn’t think enforcement will be an issue.
“The high licence fee is intended to cover some of our costs,” Meggs said. “I don’t think enforcement will be very difficult given the very public nature of the business.”
The city charged $30,000 for business license fees to dispensaries and $1,000 for non-profit compassion clubs.
The city said the fees would pay for creating and enforcing the framework of rules for the operations, a cost pegged at $1.4-million the first year, $700,000 the following year, and $500,000 after that.
Chief Licence Inspector Andreea Toma said the city will enforce their decision, similar to any other business, to ensure compliance with all bylaws.
“The six month extension we are allowing businesses to operate is to allow the industry time to meet new regulations as enacted by council,” said Toma. “The city’s enacted zoning and business licence bylaws for medical marijuana related land use, are within our jurisdiction to enforce.”
Some business owners aren’t happy with the city’s decision.
Weeds Glass & Gifts owner Don Briere had only one of his nine stores approved and believes the city’s decision will be contested in court by the Canadian Cannabis Coalition to secure injunctions for the denied applicants.