The first application for a private pot store in Maple Ridge has a positive recommendation from city staff.
Spiritleaf, based in Calgary, has applied to open a location in Valley Fair Mall at Lougheed Highway and 227th Street.
According to a May 7 city staff report, Spiritleaf was the only company whose application for a retail outlet was approved by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch of B.C.
With that approval now provided, Maple Ridge council could decide whether to issue a resolution supporting a licence, opposing it, or offering no comment.
The item was on council’s committee of the whole agenda Tuesday.
Staff have reviewed the company’s business plan, the application, “and all the criteria has been fully satisfied,” says the report.
The city mailed out 633 letters to residents within 200 metres of the proposed location and received three responses – two opposed and one in favour.
Heidi Guammac, with Spiritleaf, said the company has stores open in Brooks, St. Albert, Calgary and Lethbridge, in Alberta, and in Moose Jaw, Sask. and Kingston, On.
Supply problems are still hurting retail expansion, she added.
Opening the Maple Ridge location “as soon as possible would not be a bad thing.” But the company knows the process takes time, she said.
Spiritleaf wants to be open with the community, Guammac added.
“The staff are very passionate about it and their mission is to be very much on the educational side of it,” she said.
“If the community has any questions, come on over, we’ll try to answer it. They really try very hard to have that knowledge base to share with people if they have any concerns with a store being in their community.”
Valley Fair manager Nicole Archer said the store would be a good fit for the mall.
“We were very choosy. This proprietor has a proven business model and it’s a very high-end boutique style and it seemed to be a good fit for our shopping centre,” Archer said.
It could be the first private retail pot store to open in B.C. since cannabis legalization took effect last October.
If approved, the store would have to do renovations before opening up in the previous Papa Greek restaurant space.
Archer expects some phone calls, but is confident she can address people’s concerns, noting there is a Liquor Distribution Branch outlet in the mall.
“This is now legal and licenced. It is happening. We’re going to see more of these come about … and I think we’ve chosen well.”
Maple Ridge changed its zoning bylaw last year to allow recreational pot stores in commercial areas, providing there’s at least a kilometre distance between each store.
Maple Ridge regulations also give preference to stores operated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.
So far, the branch has applied for a business licence for only one store in Maple Ridge, on 207th Street and Lougheed Highway, although it’s also considering a downtown location.
A business licence application doesn’t need council approval.