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Kelowna  

Dispensaries a year away

While the federal legalization of cannabis is just over 13 weeks away, dispensaries won't be opening their doors in Kelowna until at least mid-2019.

On Friday, Ryan Smith, the City of Kelowna's community planning manager, says they have just wrapped up public consultation on the future of recreational dispensaries in the city, and they're expecting the land-use regime changes to go in front of council within the next six weeks.

With delays from the municipal election, council won't be accepting rezoning applications until late 2018 or early 2019. Smith says the rezoning process will then take another four or five months once companies are approved.

Smith says he expects this timeline will be similar to other municipalities in the province.

"We've actually got information in little bits and pieces both from the federal government and the provincial government," Smith said. "It was tough to move much faster ... it's sort of just the way it is.

"I think that you'll see across the province there may be the odd one that gets opened sooner than that, but it'll probably be the middle of next year before a lot of municipalities have a number of recreational dispensaries open."

In Kamloops, the first government-run recreational dispensary expects to open its doors much sooner. 

“We aim to have that store up and running in the fall to coincide with the legalization of Oct. 17," said Karen Shum with the Liquor Distribution Branch. 

In their announcement Wednesday, the province said the Kamloops location was chosen based on “municipal readiness for the zoning of cannabis retail operations.”

Kamloops city staff put a report on cannabis dispensary zoning changes in front of their council in April, and it was approved in early May. 

While Kelowna staff originally planned on recommending excluding downtown areas from recreational cannabis dispensaries, Smith says after consulting with local business associations, they'll be recommending that dispensaries be allowed on Bernard Avenue. 

"We're going to recommend the Lawrence/Leon corridor from Abbott to Richter not have dispensaries, but otherwise they be allowed everywhere else," Smith said. "But we'll be proposing setbacks from parks and schools."

This could prove to be good news for the DOJA Cannabis Company, a local cannabis growing company that opened the DOJA Culture Cafe coffee shop on Bernard Avenue last fall. 

Check back Sunday morning for the second part of Castanet's cannabis dispensary coverage, focused on medical cannabis, or lack thereof, in Kelowna. 



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