First cannabis stores approved in Calgary

First cannabis stores approved in Calgary
Calgary pot shops map: whos approved, whos rejected, whos waiting
The city has approved the first 14 marijuana stores and refused six, one day into reviewing applications to sell recreational pot in Calgary. 

Scroll around and click on the dots on this interactive map to see the status of cannabis store applications around the city:

(NOTE: The above map offers a quick glance, using the familiar Google Maps interface and City of Calgary data released on July 31, 2018. Some of the dots overlap, making it hard to distinguish different applications at the same address. The City of Calgary also publishes this more detailed map.)

The approved applications, which still have some hurdles to leap and which could be appealed, will be in Beltline, Sunnyside, Mount Pleasant, Signal Hill, Mission, Bridgeland, Coventry Hills, Rundle, East Shepard Industrial, South Calgary and Shawnee Slopes.

As of Monday, the city said it had 261 applications to sift through and hoped to get through the stack by Aug. 10.

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The store will also have to wait three weeks for appeals. Should a resident in a community with a prospective cannabis store appeal, an application will have to hold until the subdivision and developmental appeal board rules one way or the other, according to city spokesperson Leanna McMillan.

FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, a marijuana harvester examines buds going through a trimming machine near Corvallis, Ore. Three years after Oregon lawmakers created the state's new legal marijuana program, marijuana prices in the state are in free fall and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before legalization are losing their businesses to emerging chains and out-of-state investors. Andrew Selsky / AP

Fourteen cannabis retail shops in 11 Calgary neighbourhoods have been tentatively green-lighted by city officials who rejected another six applications.

One of these — Smoker’s Corner in Sunnyside — is keen on getting started. The franchised store sells smoking accessories such as bubblers, vaporizers, and water pipes as part of a chain operating in Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.

Those receiving a positive decision — but which still must obtain a city business licence and provincial permit — were located in the Beltline, Signal Hill, Mount Pleasant, Rundle, Mission, Sunnyside, Bridgeland/Riverside, Coventry, South Calgary, Shawnee Slopes and East Shepherd Industrial areas.

“We will wait for the 21-day period to lapse, of course, before we start to construct. But as soon as we have the full (development permit) in hand, yeah, we’ll start constructing that store right away,” Taylor said.

Some of those refused were at the same address as bids that were given approval for a development permit, while others were within 300 metres of another approved location, which would violate a city-ordered exclusion distance between cannabis retailers.

“We will wait for the 21-day period to lapse, of course, before we start to construct. But as soon as we have the full (development permit) in hand, yeah, we’ll start constructing that store right away,” Taylor said.

“Some of the refusals might have also been based on proximity to things like schools, churches or daycares,” said senior special projects officer Brandy MacInnis.

The 20 decisions were made on Monday, the first day of the city’s processing of 261 applications in advance of Oct. 17, when recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Three neighbourhoods — Mission, Signal Hill and the Beltline— each have two applications approved for development permits.

Darren Bondar, CEO of parent company Inner Spirit Holdings, hopes one of those locations receiving approval on 17 Avenue S.W. won’t cancel out a prospective Spiritleaf site a few doors away.

The approved stores can be found across the city in central neighbourhoods such as Sunnyside and the Beltline, but also areas such as Mount Pleasant, Bridgeland/Riverside, Rundle, and the Mission District.

“I’m hoping the city can be subjective and grant an exemption, to recognize there’s room for more than one store,” he said.

Even without a positive decision, the company’s gone ahead with issuing an initial public offering that’s raised $6 million to develop its franchises, said Bondar.

“We’re the first retail cannabis company in the world to do an IPO and it’s right out of Calgary,” he said.

“We know that location was the lowest development permit number that we had, and we expect as early as (Wednesday) that we will be getting more approvals,” Kaye said.

“The one on 14 Street S.W. should be good, but it is frustrating,” said Pels, who operates The Green Room.

The city, he said, doesn’t base enough of its decisions on the track record of applicants such as him, who’s been in the medical cannabis business for years.

Two of those stores belong to NewLeaf Cannabis, a Calgary-based retailer that has about 18 applications in the works, according to chief administrative officer Angus Taylor.

“I just wish there was some way they could review an applicant based on best practices on the operations of the companies,” said Pels.

Two of those stores belong to NewLeaf Cannabis, a Calgary-based retailer that has about 18 applications in the works, according to chief administrative officer Angus Taylor.

One of the approved sites, on 4 Street S.W., won’t actually be constructed for two years and could unfairly disqualify nearby applicants, said Jeff Hines, who hopes to become a Spiritleaf franchisee.

“It’s shocking,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns, that’s for sure.”

Even so, the regulatory process leading to cannabis retail, particularly conducted by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, has been stellar, said Hines, who’s taken out liquor licences for several restaurants.

The approvals are also subject to a three-week appeals period in which communities, nearby businesses and other prospective cannabis retailers can lodge objections.