Two more cannabis stores approved in Vernon

Published on January 26, 2021 by David Wylie

Downtown Vernon, BC

Vernon’s cannabis retail scene is about to get even more competitive.

Two more cannabis stores will soon be opening up after council narrowly voted 4-3 to approve them.

It’s a little hazy how many cannabis stores will be operating in the city once the smoke clears.

City staff say 13 stores have so far been granted business licences to operate, and a total of 20 applications have been forwarded to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

The BC government lists 17 cannabis retail businesses in the North Okanagan city (pop. 40,000) with provincial licences to sell pot.

City staff, however, say these latest two stores will be No. 14 and 15.

No matter the exact number, some Vernon city councillors say there are already far too many.

“I can’t find a redeeming quality in opening yet another pot store,” said Coun. Scott Anderson.

“We’re already known as the pot capital in B.C. by virtue of having more stores per capita than anywhere else. This is not the legacy I want to leave behind me.”

While a handful of business owners argued against the stores with stigma, a nearby cannabis retailer told council that the high number of competitors is making it impossible to survive.

“Firstly I think that there are already more than enough cannabis retail outlets in Vernon,” says the owner of Hive Cannabis, Neil Rockerbie. “Although competition is healthy, at this scale the viability of the existing retail outlets is already stretched.”

Mayor Victor Cumming said it wouldn’t be fair to deny businesses who followed the process and recommendations of council — not to mention paying the $5,000 fee for filing the application.

Though he says he expects some will fail.

“I believe there will be a shakeout. I don’t think there are the margins that were expected in the beginning.”