Fort St. John gives support to another private cannabis retailer

Fort St. John city councillors have given their support to West Coast Retail Holdings, which is seeking a cannabis retail licence from the province to operate a West Coast branded store at PC Plaza. 

It's the fourth private cannabis retailer that has gained the support of council and been sent back to the province for final approvals before opening. 

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A business profile notes West Coast is led by Curtis Christopherson, who owns a personal training business with 12 locations in B.C. and Ontario, and is a partner in sport nutrition business Reflex Supplements, which has a location in Fort St. John.

The proposed store received two letters of support during a public comment period in February. PC Urban Properties says it was approached by a number of cannabis retailers in the lead up to legalization last October, and chose to lease to West Coast as it believes it will become the "preeminent" cannabis retailer in the province.

"Their approach to overall health and wellness in the cannabis sector sets them apart from other retailers and will be a benefit not just to our shopping centre, but to the community of Fort St John," J. Brent Sawchyn wrote in a letter.

A staff report to city council notes the proposed store meet the city's zoning rules, and that there were no issues other than an objection by police over its location. 

Though properly zoned, the RCMP was "not in favour of the location of this application due to the close proximity of centres where families and children attend," the report states.

City staff recommended council support anyway. "The concerns expressed by the RCMP regarding the location were discussed at length by council when the bylaw was being considered," Janet Prestley, director of legislative services, notes in the report.

"Granting approval will allow the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to move to the next step with this application and conduct the 'fit and proper' assessment. The comments from the RCMP will be taken into consideration when the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch makes its decision."

HIVE Cannabis was the first to win council support in December. That was followed by support for Glory Cannabis Company and then Cannabis Corner in January, all proposing to operate within the downtown core.

The provincial government is looking to open a BC Cannabis Store in North Gate Place

According to the province, there have been 179 applications for a cannabis retail licence in the B.C. Interior and the North, however, the province has yet to grant a retail cannabis licence to a Fort St. John business. It has granted licences to cannabis stores in Pouce Coupe, Tumbler Ridge, and Dawson Creek.

Province wide, there have been 456 applications made, and only roughly a dozen ahve been approved. 

Municipal support is required before the province determines whether to issue a private company a retail cannabis licence, alongside other financial and security checks.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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