Retail Cannabis plans for Cold Lake

Cold Lake may soon be home to Spirit Leaf, a cannabis retail location. Danielle Normand, franchise owner of Spirit Leaf, presented to Cold Lake Council on Tuesday evening her hopes to open shop in the city. Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, says the city is ready for legalization when it happens.

“We’ve already passed all our bylaws, in terms of setbacks from schools, etc. She’s just has to find her location,” Mayor Copeland said.

The City stuck to the regulations set out by the Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC). “The Government has to make it legal, but for the businesses that come in, they’ll get a business licence and work with the City.”

The mayor speculates that the typical customer is in and out of the store quickly, much like clientele at a liquor store.

“The big thing for the business is, when is it going to be legal? If they’re looking to rent, how early do you rent?,” there’s a lot of uncertainties that the mayor understands could be tough on the potential business owners. “You don’t want to do all your renovations and then you’re sitting there waiting on all your product.”

Normand said she’s still in the early stages in terms of location. “Spirit Leaf is a franchise so there’s construction involved. I have to meet their specifications.”

Copeland and City Council recently returned from FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) in Ottawa. He was hopeful some direction in regards to legalization would be given at the meetings; it was not. “We didn’t get any indications. The hope is by fall it’ll be up and running. It was originally supposed to be July 1st, but that’s been pushed away. Hopefully, they can come to a conclusion.”

Normand says the uncertainty of not knowing when legalization will happen is one of the harder aspects of the business, “I felt much better after the final Senate reading went through, I take it day-by-day.”

Mayor Copeland says it’s now up to the business people who are interested in getting into the retail cannabis business to start opening up dialogue with the City.

“We’ve had about five people kicking around the doors,” AGLC has indicated that there will only be 250 cannabis retail licences available. For the City of Edmonton a lottery has been created to determine which businesses may get the licences. Cold Lake has not discussed doing the same procedure, the mayor doesn’t anticipate it’ll come to that.

Normand is confident this won’t be an issue in Cold Lake.”AGLC has started taking licences applications from Spirit Leaf.”

Normand said she was received very well by City Council, “they’re well-aware that’s it’s going to be legal and they’re going to support local business, as best they can; it was quite supportive.”

As for the City’s provisions, which have not varied from those set out by AGLC, Normand said she understands and finds them to be adequate for both her potential business, as well as public concerns. “They make sense. It makes sense not to have [retail cannabis] not next to schools. I have no issues with it whatsoever.”

Mayor Copeland confirmed that the land use bylaws have been passed with the same regulations as AGLC.

Copeland said no matter when legalization happens, Cold Lake is ready for cannabis retail businesses. “The City is ready.”