BANFF – Alberta’s moratorium on issuing new licences and accepting applications for retail pot shops has been lifted given a steady increase in cannabis supply.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) commission issued five new licences on Thursday (May 30), including one for neighbouring Jasper National Park, and will continue to issue five a week as long as cannabis supply remains good.
Town of Banff planners say there are four stores in Banff with approved development permits, which have been pending subject to AGLC approval.
“We expect the four approved locations will proceed with their developments and obtain licences in the near future,” said planner Dave Michaels, who has handled the municipality's cannabis file.
“We also expect sooner rather than later that we may receive new applications,” he added, noting any completed new applications will be dealt with on a first-come, first-serve basis.
AGLC officials say they will monitor the cannabis supply to ensure retailers continue to receive enough, and should supply take a drastic downtown, the AGLC will evaluate reinstating the moratorium.
“Our commitment is to continue monitoring the supply situation and that’s to ensure that if we do bring on additional licences that it’s sustainable,” said Heather Holmen, an AGLC spokesperson, noting there has been a modest, but steady growth in supply since January.
AGLC has kept a queue of approved retailers on a first-come, first-serve basis to ensure a fair process once the moratorium is lifted.
As of May 29, there were 443 applicants representing 473 pending locations. Since the moratorium was implemented in November, 110 applications have been withdrawn.
Holmen said 115 applications have been approved and are waiting for a licence.
“It’s on a first-in, first-out basis and we'll chip away at those 115 applications each week,” said Holmen, adding once approved there will be an on-site inspection before they can open.
“The 155 have met all AGLC licensing and due diligence and security and safety requirements, and they’re received municipal licences.”
In Banff, the four stores currently with municipal development permits for retail cannabis include a Spiritleaf at the former Great Canadian Dollar Store location on Bear Street, Westleaf in the former Hoodoo Lounge nightclub and Alcanna in the former Internet café in the basement of the Sundance Mall.
The fourth development approval was for a Starbuds in the basement of the Wolf and Bear Street Mall, however last week Fire & Flower Corp. confirmed its acquisition of 2103430 Alberta Ltd. Starbuds.
Trevor Fencott, CEO of Fire & Flower, said the company intends to transfer one of its existing applications with the AGLC to Banff.
He said the acquisition also includes rights of first refusal and last offer in favour of Fire & Flower in respect of two locations under development in Revelstoke and Fernie, B.C..
“The Rocky Mountains are an international tourism destination,” he said in a news release.
“Our location in Banff, in addition to our Canmore and Hinton, Alberta stores, establishes Fire & Flower as a leading cannabis retail brand in the region.”
The existing retail location is 77.5 square metres, but the new owners have put in an application to the Town of Banff to take over the space next door in the existing Bow Valley College Space.
Michaels said the requirement for storefront cannabis stores in Banff is to advertise the application for two weeks before it goes to Municipal Planning Commission. No date has been set.
“There’s also a requirement of every development permit application that there has to be confirmation from the applicant from AGLC,” he said.