At Tuesday’s Regular Council Meeting, Bonnyville Town Council received a presentation from a pair who hope to open the first cannabis dispensary in Bonnyville; Spirit Leaf. Thya Savisky and Kyle Sargent spoke to Council about their plans to open the dispensary once it is legal to do so. The pair also wanted to hear from Council if there were any questions or concerns moving forward that may impede their plans. Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, told the pair that it’s a waiting game, “we’re directed by legislation from the Province. So until we receive that we can only wait”.
Savisky and Sargent plan to open a franchise chain, Spirit Leaf, explains Savisky, “as you’re all aware, cannabis is slated to become legal in 2018 and we would like the Town of Bonnyville to be part of this exciting new industry”. Plans are to open Spirit Leaf at the same location as Savisky’s other businesses, Lakeland Arctic Spa and Cheap Smokes & Cigars. The store would be separate from the other businesses, with separate entrances and enclosed spaces. “We plan to sell cannabis in a legalized, regulated environment.” The franchise has over 90 location planned in Canada (Saskatchewan, Alberta & British Columbia), once legalization comes through; there is only one location planned for Bonnyville.
“A few things we know so far, which is not a lot, from the Canadian Government. Legalization will happen in the summer of 2018, not July 1st as originally stated,” as Savisky explains not a lot of information has been given to the franchise, public or communities on when and how legalization will happen. She does have some information on the revenue split, “the tax revenues will be split 75-25, with 75 percent going to the Province. This will help pay for increased demands on law enforcement, bylaw laws, public education and administration”.
“We also know that cannabis will not be allowed to be sold in places that sell tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceuticals,” with knowledge of that, Savisky and Sargent have made plans to renovate the existing space at the Lakeland Arctic Spa building to accommodate for separate entrances and enclosed, separate retail spaces. Further they are planning to increase security measures with alarm systems, cameras, and metal roll-downs for the entrance. Sargent explains, “we will take some space away from Arctic Spas”.
There will also be measures taken for minors. Minors will not be permitted in the store and everyone will be ID’d upon entry. Further the store is set-up in such a way that Savisky assures, “no one under 18 [years of age] will be able to look in window or doors to see any product. There will be zero-visibility.”
Spirit Leaf has three main distributors lined up for growing marijuana, says Sargent, “one of them being Aurora; which is the company that’s building the greenhouses outside of the airport, in Edmonton. Two others in British Columbia.” There are no plans in the works to have a marijuana grow operation near Bonnyville; from Spirit Leaf or any other investors, at this time.
Savisky and Sargent hope to work with the Town and the community to educate the public on their soon-to-be store and the use of cannabis marijuana. The Town of Bonnyville has had some preliminary discussions on the marijuana legalization, this year; however has not been able to do much due to lack of information being passed down from the Provincial and Federal Governments. Mayor Sobolewski says it’s a waiting game, “I want to make sure everyone is aware, we get our marching orders from the Province. We have to make sure that when you’re ready to go the Province has actually given us direction.”