Pot sales permits in Edmonton up to lottery draw

Cannabis retailers hoping to set up shop in Edmonton will be banking on the luck of the draw. The city’s urban planning committee voted to use a lottery system Tuesday to decide who gets a development permit to sell pot.

City councillors agree to random selection to decide who can sell cannabis

The City of Edmonton is expecting 200 applications from companies looking to sell cannabis. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Cannabis retailers hoping to set up shop in Edmonton will have to bank on the luck of the draw.

The city's urban planning committee voted in favour of a lottery system Tuesday to choose who will get a development permit to sell pot.

Councillors Michael Walters said the random selection process puts small and big companies on the same playing field.  

"What we're trying to do is create a sense of fairness," Walters said after the decision. "There's a lot of interest in setting up cannabis business in Edmonton, from a variety of proponents from a variety of capacities."

City administration said the random selection process should deal with an estimated 200 applications.

Fire & Flower had asked councillors to give priority to companies that have already made significant investments in sites and have submitted provincial applications.

Despite the committee's decision, Fire & Flower CEO Trevor Fencott said his company will enter expressions of interest for 16 stores in Edmonton. 
Trevor Fencott, president and CEO of Fire & Flower, says his company will submit expressions of interest to open 16 stores in Edmonton. (CBC)

"It doesn't diminish our commitment to Edmonton and having our headquarters here," Fencott said. "We're pioneers in a new space and we were prepared for that coming in, and our investors are prepared for that as well."

Fencott sees it as a long-term investment, since the company has more than 30 applications with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to operate stores around the province.

"We'll see what the lottery process does."

Tracy Gunderson, who wants to open Clair's Cannabis in south Edmonton, told media after the meeting that she's relieved the city will use a random selection process.
Tracy Gunderson is applying to have a site in south Edmonton rezoned and will submit an expression of interest in hopes of selling cannabis. (CBC)

"Rather than someone going in and getting 25 locations, this way it's drawn one by one, so just more people have a chance to open a store."

Gunderson said she's "in the process of" applying through the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission and needs to get the site rezoned to fit the cannabis bylaw.

"It's been difficult because the corporations have scooped up all of the places in Edmonton, so all of the eligible places aren't zoned for it."  

The city will accept expressions of interest from May 22 to June 12, and said it will start awarding development permits after June 20.

@natashariebe