City of Vancouver officials say that they expect the first of the city’s dispensaries to be granted business licenses by the spring.

Andreaa Toma, the city’s city’s chief licence inspector, said staff are currently dealing with the applications from 176 license hopefuls, some of which have moved on to the next phase of the process, while others are appealing rejections or finding new locations for their operations.

Toma said, in addition to working with applicants, the licensing team is also collecting feedback from neighbours of the storefronts before making final decisions on issuing the licenses.

According to Toma, the city will issue the first license in the next few months, to one of the 12 applicants currently listed on the city’s development application page.

The 12 will be notified within the next two weeks about next steps in their process, steps that will examine the business’s legal history.

Toma said the city is still sorting through six or seven “clusters” of dispensaries — groups that adhere to requirements for distance from schools and community centres, but are too close to one another.

Officials will look at all operations within the clusters and decide which one will be granted permission to proceed with a business license based on a point system. If points are equal between businesses, a lottery will be help to choose the successful applicant.

Although Toma said dispensaries have the option to find a new location if their application is denied, many unsuccessful operations have decided to go before the city’s Board of Variance to fight for their ability to stay at their current location. The hearings will begin in mid-February.