British Columbia

Meet your friendly neighbourhood pot dealer: cannabis clinic manager builds relations in northeast B.C.

The manager of a soon-to-be-opened medical-marijuana clinic in Dawson Creek, B.C., is going on a public relations blitz to introduce his business to the community.

Medical marijuana shop goes on PR blitz of Dawson Creek, B.C. ahead of franchise opening

Matthew Rivard is hosting meet-and-greets at chamber of commerce locations throughout northeast B.C. in order to introduce his marijuana business to the local business community. (Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce)

The manager of a soon-to-be-opened medical-marijuana clinic in Dawson Creek, B.C., is going on a public relations blitz to introduce his business to the community.

That means chamber of commerce luncheons, sit-downs with local politicians and even a regular column in the local paper.

It's part of what Matthew Rivard calls a "high-level" introduction to what he'll be providing once he opens his Compass Cannabis Clinic in the local mall — beside a dollar store, sushi restaurant and Shoppers Drug Mart — at the end of February.

Recreational marijuana is scheduled to be legalized in Canada July 1. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Rivard is managing partner of the Dawson Creek clinic, which is one of numerous franchises Compass has in B.C. and Alberta. 

As far as he knows, the clinic will be the first of its kind in northeast B.C., which means he's fielding lots of questions from the community.

"We're not a head shop, we're not selling bongs," he said. "We're providing people with access to medicinal marijuana."

Rivard will be the guest speaker at a chamber of commerce luncheon in Dawson Creek on Friday, and he's already had a similar meeting in the nearby community of Chetwynd.

The goal, he said, is to field "questions and concerns" people may have about a marijuana-based business opening in the community.

"You do need to get out there," he said.

Compass Cannabis has locations throughout western Canada, including Kelowna, B.C., and Red Deer, Alta. (Compass Cannabis Clinic)

The approach is in contrast to some other marijuana-based businesses, which have at times moved into communities only to find themselves a target for local politicians or police.

In Prince George, B.C., two pot shops were shut down after the owners failed to obtain business licences and police inspections discovered illegal drugs on the premises.

Police in Toronto and Montreal also turned to raids to shut down cannabis shops operating without the support of local lawmakers.

Elsewhere, communities such as Prince Rupert in northwest B.C. and Taylor, a short drive from Dawson Creek, have explored an outright ban on pot shops until they can get a better handle on what the new federal rules will mean.

Rivard's approach is to operate with the support of the community he's called home for the past 12 years. Although he'd like to sell recreational marijuana once it's legalized, he said he'd wait for the go-ahead from city council.

"It depends on local government and how things are legislated," he said.

Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce executive director Kathleen Connolly said the response from the business community has been "positive" and her organization is interested in supporting "all new businesses in Dawson Creek provided they meet all legal requirements." ​

With files from Nicole Oud

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Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at You can also send encrypted messages using Signal to 250.552.2058.