Coquitlam may be one public hearing away from launching a pilot project that would allow six pot shops to crop up throughout the city over a two-year period, following a unanimous vote Monday night.

The trial

Set to begin in 2022, the project would allow two shops in City Centre and one each in Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville.

Given how many other cities have allowed pot shops, Coun. Brent Asmundson was somewhat nonplussed at the prospect of a pilot project.

“I don’t know why we’re doing a trial because we waited for others to do the trial,” he said.

Competition

Coquitlam initially considered allowing 10 stores before opting to scale back to six. That reduction might be a mistake, according to Asmundson.

Besides keeping the shops at least 150 metres from schools, Asmundson suggested the shops could largely be treated in the same fashion as cafés or restaurants.

“It’s not my job to worry about your competition in the area,” he said, adding the city was too restrictive in limiting craft breweries.

Currently, retail shops are slated to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Production

Production and processing facilities would be permitted in industrial and business zones provided they keep 200 metres from parks, residential areas, and schools as well as childcare facilities.

The cost

Potential pot shop proprietors would pay the city $7,998 to apply for a cannabis retail rezoning. If denied by staff, the applicant could recoup 50 percent of their fee.

If approved by council, Coquitlam will start taking pot shop applications Jan. 4.