Saskatoon

Saskatoon city council rejects proposal for cap on number of marijuana stores

City councillors in Saskatoon say they aren't interested in regulating the number of marijuana stores in the city.

Store owners concerned about new entrants flooding the market in September

The owner of Saskatoon's marijuana stores are asking city council to limit the number of new pot shops coming to the city. (The Pot Shack)

City councillors in Saskatoon say they aren't interested in regulating the number of marijuana stores in the city.

On Monday, local pot store owners made their case to a city committee, asking for a gradual increase in the number of marijuana stores in the city and a greater required distance between stores.

The submission came after the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority announced a plans to open submissions for licences for new stores across the province in September, doing away with previous limits on how many could be in each jurisdiction.

Saskatoon was initially granted seven licences, although only six stores are currently open.

The owners group says that if the number of stores isn't limited, large chains will drive independent stores out of business.

"I'm just saying we should consider putting a cap on it or some sort of phased approach to give us little guys a bit more of a fighting chance," said Cierra Sieben-Chuback, owner of Living Skies Cannabis.

The group of owners asked for a mandatory separation distance of 500 metres, to make sure that groups don't cluster around any particular area. Currently, the setback distance is 160 metres.

Councillors and administration both agreed that the city does not regulate the number of businesses in its jurisdiction. Instead, it focuses on zoning concerns, such as distance from playgrounds and schools.

"I am not convinced that it is the city's job or has been the city's job in other business licensing spaces to address competition in a retail market," said councillor Hilary Gough.

"If there's intention to see the overall number of businesses limited in this industry, that's something that has in the past, and should in the future, be regulated by the provincial government."

Councillors also voted unanimously in favour of reducing the marijuana licensing fee to $4,500, down from $20,000.

The city said that as more pot stores enter the market, it will be able to spread the cost of enforcement out among more entrepreneurs.

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