Proposed third cannabis store up for debate Monday

A third cannabis store in Prince Albert is up for debate among City councillors. If approved, it would open in the empty Cornerstone unit pictured. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

The two-permit cap of cannabis retailers in Prince Albert will expire in September, opening the door for a third store in Prince Albert. City council will vote on the location for that store at Monday’s council meeting.

The retailers submitted a Discretionary Use Development Permit Application for a new store in the community shopping centre located at 801 15th Street East.

Should it be approved, it will open in the former Freshii location. City administrators say the proposal meets all applicable municipal bylaws, and recommend that council approve it.

“The proposed development conforms to and supports the core value of entrepreneurship, as the development would create economic benefits for the owner and employees throughout its operation,” reads a report from City planner Jorden Olmstead.

“In addition, the applicant seeks to capitalize on a new market while providing high quality services to the City’s residents.”Olmstead also wrote that the proposed development would help create a viable, diverse commercial area that gives working, shopping and entertainment opportunities.

The proposal can only move forward if the provincial government lifts the current cap on cannabis retailers in September as planned. If that happens, the permit application would not be issued, even if council approves it on Monday. Olmstead wrote that the applicants wanted to be proactive so they could start preparing to open.

The City sent out a public notice about the project to all property owners within 75 meters of the development on July 7.

Reached by phone Friday, neither Mayor Greg Dionne nor Coun. Evert Botha expressed any concerns about the proposed location. Prince Albert’s two cannabis stores are both located along Second Avenue West.

While the provincial government considers lifting the cap on cannabis retail stores in Prince Albert, city council has considered replacing it with their own. Cannabis retailers are already limited to operating in one of four commercials zones within city limits. 

The bylaw limiting Prince Albert to just three cannabis stores is set to receive second and third reading at Monday’s meeting. Cannabis retailers pay a one-time licensing fee of $20,000 for their first year of operation, and $100 every year afterwards.

Botha, who has been a key proponent of the change, said he’s happy the city will be capping the number of stores at three.

“We will be passing a bylaw to limit the number of cannabis stores in our community to three, and I’m happy with that,” he said.

“I would have liked to see no ore cannabis stores and a restriction on distance from (liquor stores) to cannabis stores, but if we can limit it to three I’m happy. “The next step, he said, it tweaking zoning to further restrict where alcohol and cannabis stores can go, and to try to limit the hours of operation, Botha said. “I’m happy we’re capping it at three stores and the rest we can deal with in time. I don’t like having cannabis stores close to liquor stores, but it is what it is.”

Dionne said he believes the three stores will serve the city well.The previous vote to limit the number of stores to three received strong council support, with only Couns. Terra Lennox-Zepp and Charlene Miller voting against.

— With files from Peter Lozinski