After considering a maximum of 10 shops earlier this year, Coquitlam council unanimously approved a framework Monday evening that will allow up to six cannabis stores in the city beginning in 2022.

Prospective pot shop proprietors are permitted to apply to the city between Jan. 4 and 14 for a zoning amendment.

The city is planning to consider a maximum of two shops in City Centre and one each in Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville.

image supplied City of Coquitlam

The city previously considered a maximum of two stores in each neighbourhood. However, the reduction from 10 to six shops was made to allow for a “gradual introduction to cannabis retail” in Coquitlam, according to a city staff report.

Coquitlam’s cannabis framework is set to be reviewed in two years. At that point, council can reconsider the number of pot shops, explained Coun. Dennis Marsden.

“Is ten the right number?” he asked. “Maybe you just wipe that out and just say, ‘let the market prevail.’”

Coun. Brent Asmundson made a similar point during a previous council discussion.

“It’s not my job to worry about your competition in the area,” he said.

Besides reducing the number of shops, the rezoning process is also slated to be more comprehensive than previously proposed.

The application process

After applying to the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the applicant could then apply to the city.

The application fee for a cannabis zoning amendment is set at $7,998. If denied by staff, the applicant could recoup 50 percent of their fee.

Following a referral to the city from LCRB and pending a report from city staff, the application would then come before council for a public hearing and three readings. Following a security screening and a financial integrity check from the province, the applicant could then get final approval from city council. Following final approval and a recommendation from the city, the applicant would then get a cannabis retail licence from the province and a business licence from the city.

Some rules:

Cannabis production facilities would need to be at least 200 metres from “sensitive land uses” including schools, parks, child care and residential areas, according to the city staff report.

Retail shops would need to be 150 metres from schools.

There are also rules around odour management, a ban on outdoor storage of any cannabis byproducts or waste, and regulations mandating transparent front windows and clear sightlines into and out of retail shops.

‘Greater acceptance’

A survey carried out the city found the majority of respondents supported cannabis sales as a way to stimulate the economy.

“There’s a greater acceptance now,” said Coun. Craig Hodge. Hodge suggested Coquitlam benefited from taking the “slow, wait-and-see approach.”