British Columbia

Construction for pot shop on band land in Williams Lake underway

Construction of a new cannabis store on Williams Lake Indian Band land is underway, making it among the first to be located on reserve land in B.C.

It will be one of the first located on reserve land in B.C.

The band is partnering with Indigenous Blooms, which was also involved in opening a cannabis shop in places like Chilliwack. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

Construction of a new cannabis store on Williams Lake Indian Band land is underway, making it among the first to be located on reserve land in B.C.

Chief Willie Sellars said he hopes the pot shop will bring in revenue for the region and create jobs. Construction begins on Monday, Dec. 10 and is expected to be completed within three months. 

"We're a resource-based economy here in Williams Lake — forestry, mining — and the Williams Lake Indian Band is always trying to think outside the box and do its part to diversify the economy here," Sellars said.

"Getting into the cannabis industry is, I think, is a good way to do that."

The band is partnering with Indigenous Blooms, which was also involved in opening a cannabis shop in places like Chilliwack.

A mock-up of what the shop will look like. (Williams Lake Indian Band)

'Get our feet in the door'

Sellars said opening the pot shop will have a significant impact on the community, estimating that between 10 to 15 jobs will immediately be created.

"The goal is to start with this dispensary, to kind of get our feet in the door, and then we want to put another one up," he told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

The first one is being built on reserve lands within the city limits of William Lake in an industrial commercial area. It's replacing an empty lot where people have been dumping garbage.

"It's kind of been an eyesore," Sellars said. "We've been looking for for something to put in here for years."

The band pot shop won't be the only one in the area — the City of Williams Lake has approved three licenses already — but Sellars believes there's room for more.

"We understand that it's not going to be the gold rush," he said. "But it's a good revenue generator."

Before construction began, a number of community engagement sessions were held to gauge feedback. Sellars said, so far, it's been positive.

Most of the issues flagged at the meetings revolved around drug awareness and making sure the products are kept out of the hands of minors, he said, and are being addressed.

"We've dedicated a percentage of our net revenue to social programming, to drug awareness, scholarships and bursaries for the Williams Lake Indian band," he said.  

"That gives people peace of mind that we're going to be working towards that."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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