File photo The first recreational cannabis store in BC, in Kamloops, prior to its opening Wednesday.

BC-run cannabis store on the way for Port Alberni

Government eyes spot in Pacific Rim Shopping Centre

Port Alberni will be seeing its first retail cannabis store, and potentially the first government-run cannabis retail store on Vancouver Island.

Port Alberni city council went over an application from the Liquor Distribution Branch on Monday, Feb. 25 for a government-operated cannabis retail store, which will be located at the Pacific Rim Shopping Centre on Johnston Road.

Bylaw services manager Flynn Scott explained on Monday that the location meets the city’s new zoning requirements for cannabis retail stores.

Because it is a provincially-run store, the Liquor Distribution Branch is not required to apply for a provincial license and they are not required to hold a business license under the City of Port Alberni. Once they are approved and their renovations are complete, a BC Cannabis Store will be permitted to operate.

Scott added that although a government store has already been approved in Campbell River, none have opened on Vancouver Island to date. The Liquor Distribution Branch currently operates one provincial store, located in Kamloops.

“This could potentially be the first on Vancouver Island,” Scott said.

Councillor Dan Washington asked about the potential impact on Pacific Rim Veterinary Hospital, which is also located at the same shopping centre. Dave Mills, the landlord for the applicant, said that there will be no consumption on site, and that odour hasn’t been an issue with the government store in Kamloops.

Council approved the application on Monday, and Mills said he imagines the store can be opened within the next six months.

Port Alberni City Council also received their first application for private retail cannabis store from Alberni Cannabis Store on Redford Street—formerly known as OG West.

The applicant, Major Rai, will still be required to arrange a visit from a provincial inspector, then will have to go through the city’s business licensing process. Although Port Alberni doesn’t have an approved business license bylaw for private cannabis retail stores yet, Scott still brought the application forward to council on Monday.

“We’re trying not to hold up the process,” he explained. “There’s still several hoops for the province to put the applicant through, so we want to push them along for time-sensitivity matters.”

Council voted to provide a positive recommentation to endorse Alberni Cannabis Store. A formal letter will be sent to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Board so that the applicant can progress forward in the provincial process.

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