Two retail cannabis stores have moved one step closer to going ahead in Quesnel this week.
At the Feb. 26 council meeting, Quesnel council recommended to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) that a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Store License be issued to 1412 Holdings Limited at 308 McLean St. and that a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Store Licence be issued to the Liquor Distribution Branch of British Columbia (LDB) at the West Park Mall.
Brad Kotzer, owner of the Billy Barker Casino and Hotel, has applied to the LCRB to obtain a licence for a private retail sales location at 308 McLean St. where the Billy Barker Beer and Wine store used to be.
The City mailed out 58 notices to tenants and property owners near the site, and there were no responses.
Kotzer is proposing the store be called Hi Times and is requesting operating hours from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
There were no public responses to the LDB application for a government-operated cannabis retail store at Units 23 and 25, 155 Malcolm Dr., at the West Park Mall in South Quesnel, either.
The City mailed notices to 85 tenants and property owners within 100 metres of the property and received no comments.
Kevin Satterfield, the LDB’s director of retail operations, spoke to council about the government’s application.
“The process it will go through after this is confirming the lease,” he said. “Once it’s officially signed and we start the tenant improvements, which we anticipate to be closed between March 15 and April 15, at that point in time, we have a 30-week process before we actually open the store. We can shorten that a little bit, but our critical path on the project side of it is approximately 14 weeks as it relates to the hiring and recruiting we do in the community and the enhanced security screening we do for each of the individuals who gets hired into the store.”
Satterfield says the store is the same size as the LDB’s BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops, which is 3,000 square feet, and in that store, there are usually 12 to 16 people working.
He expects the number of employees would be similar in Quesnel.
“I haven’t done the actual sales numbers to find out what the dollars per square foot will be, but I’m anticipating something along the same lines, approximately one full-time general manager, two assistant managers, six full-time people, three part-time people and auxiliaries,” he said.
Satterfield is not concerned about any perceived lack of supply.
“We are the wholesale distributor as well as the retailer at the same time, and we also wholesale for all [private stores,]” he explained. “We have our Richmond distribution centre of 70,000 square feet that has a very good supply right now. We have 42 current LP [limited partnership] contracts in place, which is far more than anybody in Canada, therefore, we have a good lead time of products still coming in, and with the anticipated regulations of edibles and concentrates, we anticipate there will be a steady supply going through the rest of the year.”
Both proposed store locations are properly zoned for retail cannabis sales use and meet the City’s required setbacks from schools, playgrounds, parks and residences.
Now that council has made these resolutions, the City will forward its review and resolution to the LCRB, explained Tanya Turner, Quesnel’s director of development services.
“At this point, we will be submitting our recommendations back into the LCRB, and they are in the process still of doing all their final work with the applicant,” she said. “We have not received notice from that yet that it’s a go on their end completely, but we do know they are working very closely with the applicant, and they are moving forward. I don’t have a timeline on the McLean Street one.”
Mayor Bob Simpson emphasized that now that the City is making its recommendations to the LCRB, it’s out of the City’s hands.
“This is the end of our due diligence; we sign off on it, and now it’s a retail operation that will or will not open depending on what the Province does,” he said, to which Turner agreed.