Matt Nicholas, owner of Vernon's Black Crow Cannabis, runs one of the many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

There are some high costs for operating cannabis shops around the Okanagan, but particularly in Kelowna.

Business licence fees are being balked by many retailers, with the City of Vernon recently tasked to review its $2,000 annual cost.

READ MORE: Cannabis shops paying premium to operate in Vernon

In comparison to Vernon, Kelowna charges $9,465. Meanwhile, other retail businesses pay $150-250 in Kelowna ($135-185 in Vernon).

“The higher fees are due to the costs of developing policies, managing this emerging business sector, sorting through applicants and administering it all,” Kelowna’s corporate communications manager Tom Wilson said. “The business licence fee is expected to come down by 2023 as the sector becomes more established and routine to administer.”

Lake Country charges $530.75 for marijuana dispensaries or grow operations, the licence renewal for other storefront businesses is $106.

Yet in Penticton, there is one fee ($185) no matter the type of business.

“When we were originally setting up our cannabis regulations, there was debate about an appropriate rate to charge for stores and it was decided to set the rate the same as any other retail business in the community,” said Penticton’s director of development services Blake Laven.

In West Kelowna, retail cannabis businesses fall under a Tier 3 licensing fee of $360, compared to Tier 1 which is $60 and Tier 2 which is $135.

Despite the high cost of doing cannabis business in Kelowna, it still has nine licenced shops. So does Penticton.

Vernon has the greatest number of shops in the Okanagan at 14.

There are four each in West Kelowna and Salmon Arm, two in Lake Country and Armstrong, Enderby and Lumby each have one. These are just the licenced stores and do not include the many shops on Westside Road.

The Interior is a hot spot for cannabis shops, with the highest number, by far, throughout the province.

According to application statistics from Liquor and Cannabis Licensing, there have been 177 licences issued in the Interior and the North (244 applications have been submitted, with some in the process of being approved). While the Interior/North covers a much larger area, Vancouver Island has had 79 licenses issued (130 submitted), Greater Vancouver has issued 71 (128 submitted) and Surrey/Fraser Valley has eight (36 submitted).

With many cannabis shops now in their second year of business, they are feeling the pinch as they renew their licences. Like Vernon’s Spiritleaf, which opened the Okanagan’s first legal cannabis shop on July 1, 2019. The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has called on Vernon to cut ‘too high’ of fees in support of local business.

“Unless the city can demonstrate that retail cannabis shops place undue financial pressure on city resources such as policing or bylaw compliance, then there is no justification for $2,000 a year, particularly at a time when our community and economy depend on recovery from the pandemic,” Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce president Krystin Kempton said in a letter to Vernon council. “Maintaining such a high business license fee could threaten the viability of entrepreneurs and employment opportunities.”

On top of increased fees for banking and almost every aspect of business, due to the nature of the business, Black Crow’s Matt Nicholas says it’s not fair how the City of Vernon charges so much.

“Hopefully they drop it, ‘cause $2,000 is ridiculous,” Nicholas said.

But for those who operate in multi-jurisdictions, like Spiritleaf, they do not have to pay the high licence fees in each city. Instead, an inter-municipal (or mobile) business licence fee of $150 is all they need outside of their home municipal business licence.

Aside from the annual fee, new stores pay an application fee for going through provincial approval, which requires local government support.

READ MORE: Lumby greenlights Okanagan’s first cannabis business park


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cannabisSmall Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Vernon Vipers defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-1 to secure the top spot in the BC Hockey League Vernon pod Friday, May 7, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
VIDEO: Vipers beat Salmon Arm, clinch top spot in BCHL Vernon pod

Goaltender James Porter Jr. was a wall for the Vipers, who outscored the Silverbacks 3-1 Friday

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

The 2021 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival will be a virtual event and is slated to take place Aug. 13 and 14.(Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Virtual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues returns for 2021

Participating artists will stream live during two-night event

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

Darren Landy stands next to his six-by-10-foot trailer that he uses to haul yard waste to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District landfill in Salmon Arm. Because the trailer is tandem axle, he is charged for disposal. There is no fee for yard waste dropped off by car or single-axle trailers. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Resident caught in tandem-axle dilemma at Salmon Arm landfill

Darren Landy argues larger single-axle trailers loaded with yard waste are being dumped for free

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read