Three private cannabis stores in Penticton are working to clear final hurdles before opening, while a government store could also swoop in at any time to become the first legally operating shop in town.
City development director Anthony Haddad didn't have a firm prediction on which store will be ready to go first, but said they are all close: "It's tough to say."
One of the stores is SpiritLeaf on Skaha Lake Road, which has submitted its business permits, but hasn't got provincial approval.
"If they get their provincial approval, then they will be first out of the gate. But if they don't get approval, then we won't issue the licence, and they are still sitting there in a flux," Haddad said.
The other two, Cannabis Cottage at 385 Martin Street and Greenery Cannabis Boutique at 465 Martin Street have "Approval in Principle" notices in hand from the province, but are still awaiting a final go-ahead.
"The business licence application is in for Cannabis Cottage, for example, and they could theoretically get their provincial approval tomorrow, and they'd be first," Haddad said.
"Our ability to issue the first business licence will be dependant on the provincial approval," he explained. "Some of them have different buildings with different renovations needed, some of them already have renovations underway."
The other question mark in the race to be first to open is the government-run BC Cannabis Store, slated for 106-2210 Main Street. They don't have to apply for a provincial licence, just city approval.
"So if they had their business licence application in right now, we'd issue it tomorrow," Haddad said. "But they haven't submitted their licence. So they could be first."
It all comes down to a waiting game with the province, and Haddad says the city is working steadily on the process on their end to get cannabis retail stores open soon.