Nelson council approves cannabis business selection system

Nelson council approves cannabis business selection system

City staff will use a scoring matrix using 10 criteria

When cannabis is legalized, how will the City of Nelson decide between the many business applications it will probably get? After all, Nelson is only going to allow a maximum of five stores: two stores downtown, one on Nelson Ave/ Highway 3A, one in the Industrial/ Lakeside Drive area, and one in Railtown.

City council and staff expect far more cannabis applications than that, and those could include the current medical cannabis outlets applying for recreational cannabis licences.

Prospective recreational cannabis retail businesses must first apply to the provincial government, which will screen applications to ensure that basic requirements are met. These include background and criminal checks on the applicants and verifying that the applicant holds a minimum 12-month lease for the proposed premises.

Then the province will refer the application to the municipality, which will see if the application meets the zoning requirements and if it does, city staff will apply a scoring matrix that was recommended to council by city planning staff. It was discussed at some length by council on Monday night before they approved it.

The matrix is shown in the chart below.

Applications for recreational cannabis municipal business licences would be reviewed quarterly. Staff would rate candidates and refer the top scorers to council for a final decision.

City planner Alex Thumm explained that if two applicants scored high and within 10 per cent of each other, they would be decided by lottery.

Related stories in the Nelson Star:

• Nelson reveals cannabis survey results (April 2018)

• Nelson council refines proposed recreational cannabis bylaws (May 2018)

Councillor Michael Dailly disagreed with the scoring matrix and said that some of the items on the matrix were subjective and therefore should be decided by lottery.

“I get it that staff should score them on security plan and fire prevention and odor control, but I think we are going into a grey area when you are talking about successful business background. How do you assign a number to how successful someone has been? Also exterior design and facade, we have other ways to deal with that.”

Councillor Robin Cherbo supported Dailly in this view.

City manager Kevin Cormack, arguing in favour of the matrix that he and his staff had devised, said similar scoring matrices are already used successfully by the city, and other governments and companies, in deciding on a number of things including staff hiring, requests for proposals, and hiring consultants.

Dailly introduced an amendment, proposing that more of the factors in the decision framework be decided by lottery, but when his amendment came to a vote it failed.

Councillor Valerie Warmington said she agreed somewhat with Dailly but she does not like lottery decisions because she thinks council should retain more control and leave less to chance.

Warmington said she hopes licences will go to local business and wondered why this was not one of the criteria.

“Who are these licences going to go to? Are they going to large corporations that are going to swoop in, or to people in our region?”

Thumm explained that he has looked into that and found that the city can’t legally favour local businesses just because they are local.

“Given the free trade situation in Western Canada, we have to treat every business from Manitoba westward equally.”

He was referring to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, which came into effect in 2010 and under which the city could be challenged for giving local businesses priority.

In addition to the criteria already discussed, council also passed a number of requirements for new applicants to post their intentions on their building and in the paper, and to invite public comment.

The selection system was put forward as an amendment to the city’s Land Development Procedures Bylaw and will be brought back for final adoption in July.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


These are the criteria city staff will use in evaluating prospective recreational cannabis businesses. “Sensitive areas” means youth-related places such as schools, parks, the Community Complex, the Youth Centre and the Civic Centre. Chart adapted from city council materials.

These are the criteria city staff will use in evaluating prospective recreational cannabis businesses. “Sensitive areas” means youth-related places such as schools, parks, the Community Complex, the Youth Centre and the Civic Centre. Chart adapted from city council materials.

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Wildlife biologist and educator Joanne Siderius was last year’s winner of the Suzy Hamilton Legacy Award for women environmentalists in the West Kootenay. Photo: Submitted
Hunter Jin shows off some homemade rice wraps. Donations poured into the Nelson Community Food Centre during the holidays. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Community Food Centre brings in $150k during holiday fundraising

The centre says the money will help address significant need in the city

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read