Starbuds ready to roll in Lake Country

Published on July 11, 2019 by David Wylie

Photo: contributed

The Central Okanagan is about to have its first licensed retail cannabis store.

After a rollercoaster of a process, Starbuds in Lake Country has been approved by the province and expects to be open this month.

“It’s a mix of relief and excitement,” says Daniel Winer, director of marketing for the Starbuds franchise.

The final inspection was Thursday.

This is the second store approved in the Okanagan Valley, with Spiritleaf in Vernon opening its doors on July 1.

“It’s great to finally have a store close to home to provide safe access to cannabis,” says Winer in an interview with the oz. “We wish we could have done it sooner.”

On again, off again

Lake Country council initially denied the store because it was too close to a temporary daycare. However, the council reconsidered and approved the location after a flood of support from the community.

“More access to the community means more success for the legal market,” says Winer.

“People have proven since legalization that purchasing cannabis online is not their desired method. It’s a very tactile product — people want to smell, see, examine under light. Purchasing the first time from an online experience can be overwhelming.”

They expected to be open within weeks of getting council’s blessing in mid-December, but the lengthy provincial process put the store in limbo for eight months.

Company reps have been outspoken over the delay.

“Wherever you’ve seen stores open, you’ve seen an increase in spending in the legal market and a decrease in the impact of the black market. So providing more shops is what is required to fulfill the mandate of the government,” says Winer.

“The wait was a challenge, but it helped us grow a lot.”

This will be the second Starbuds store in B.C. — the first opened in Dawson Creek.

The company has about 20 development permits in various stages, mostly in Alberta.

While part of a franchise, the Lake Country store is owned and operated by local residents Gavin Meehan and Celine Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has quietly opened its second BC Cannabis Store location. Both stores are in Kamloops.