Retailers look to St. Albert to open cannabis stores

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St. Albert has had a number of inquiries from people looking to open retail cannabis stores, one city official has said.

Monty Killoh, business license inspector with the City of St. Albert, said in an email that interest has come from both inside and outside the community.

“Interest has come from existing business owners in St. Albert, residents looking to start their first retail business, and existing national medicinal cannabis corporations,” he said.

He did not say how many interested retailers there were.

In response to the province’s new retail rules around pot shops, Killoh said the city would be developing bylaw amendments and recommendations to council in time for the legalization date.

Provincial officials announced the new rules on Feb. 16, speculating Alberta could open 250 cannabis stores in the first year of legalization.

The rules outlined who would be able to open recreational cannabis stores, and how they would operate.

Some of the regulations include prohibiting stores within 100 meters of schools or health centres and only allowing one business or owner to own 15 per cent of the locations.

As well, cannabis outlets will be open the same hours as liquor stores from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

When it comes to sales, cannabis can be purchased online through the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, which will also handle distribution.

Private retailers will be able to set their own prices for in-store purchases.

Jennifer McCurdy, president and CEO of St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, says the new regulations are a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s important that they set the groundwork for legislation,” she said. “It’s a good start, certainly. It’s important that things are done properly and with a lot of thought.”

She said she’s heard mixed reviews from the community. Some residents feel legalization will keep cannabis off the street, while others don’t want to see retail stores within the city.

McCurdy said while no potential cannabis retailers have reached out to the chamber yet, she expects more will start looking at the city as legalization approaches.

“It’s going to be a huge industry, I don’t think that there’s been anything as significant a change that’s going to affect businesses since prohibition,” she said. “I would think every municipality is going to be inundated with people applying for licensing.”

She said the new rules will help the city draft its own regulations regarding recreational cannabis.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.