Trail pot retailers facing costlier licences

Business licences for NMC retailers may cost 10 times more than "traditional" retail licences

Future pot retailers in Trail are looking at paying 10 times the fee for a business licence compared to the more traditional retail stores.

Related story: Grows ops left in the legal weeds

Related story: Trail pot rules ready to roll

The way it works, is the city’s annual business licence fee for a retail store is based on square footage, so the final dollar amount varies based on floor area.

For example, the annual business licence fee for a retail shop up to 1,999-square feet would be $90. That fee will cost $900 annually for a business wanting to retail “NMC” or Non Medical Cannabis. Likewise, a clothing store that takes up 4,000 to 4,999 square-feet would pay $295 for a business licence fee in Trail. A pot shop would pay $2,950.

Rationale behind the city’s increased fee structure is based on “significant costs in the development, administration and enforcement of pertinent bylaws, policies, and procedures related to NMC retail stores.”

Notably, this amendment to the city’s business licence bylaw has not been adopted, but it was given three readings at Oct. 9 council. The motion was not unanimous, Coun. Robert Cacchioni was opposed.

At any rate, just how much cannabis retailers will pay to operate a business in their respective municipality, ultimately lies in the hands of elected officials.

In the more tony neighbourhoods of Vancouver, annual licensing fees for pot shops can run as high as $30,000. In the more immediate area, the City of Nelson is proposing a $2,500 fee. That amount is half the $5,000 fee the city charged each “cannabis-related” business before NMC was legalized Oct. 17.

Councils in Castlegar and Rossland, on the other hand, have chosen to treat business licensing for NMC stores the same as any other retailer. Not so fast though, because there are still additional one-time fees specific to marijuana retailers.

First-time NMC applicants must pay $1,500 to cover the associated costs of advertising in Castlegar. Council didn’t enact restrictions other than 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. operating hours, instead each applicant is required to layout a detailed business plan for the city to consider case-by-case.

In Rossland, the dollar amount for applicants is much more conservative.

“Council previously decided to consider NMC operations under the general ‘business’ definition,” Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale noted. “And as such, at this time, they will be charged at the ‘Retail Sales/ Other Business Not Listed’ license fee of $125,” he added. “However, they will also be required to pay an additional fee of $40 (for a) New Application Inspection.”

For residents living in a bedroom community like Montrose, pot retail is prohibited for now.

“We have limited business space, and as of right now, no one has shown any interest,” Mayor Joe Danchuk said. “It’s hard to picture what it’s going to look like a few years down the road, but right now, we are quite comfortable with the path we have taken.”

Trail Daily Times