Edmonton pot shops may be chosen in lottery draw

Retailers hoping to sell pot in Edmonton later this year may be at the behest of fate.

City administration is proposing a lottery system to help determine who gets a development permit for a cannabis shop when marijuana becomes legal this year.

The random selection process would help the city avoid prejudice in screening applicants, city staff said at a public hearing Monday at city hall.

For prospective retailers who’ve already invested in design, leases and architecture work, the proposed lottery leaves too much to chance.

“It’s disturbing because private industry has had to put a lot of money into this process so far,” Fire & Flower president and CEO Trevor Fencott told CBC News Monday. “We were not notified at all that this was going to be the case.”

Municipalities award development permits and business licences, while the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is responsible for approving the provincial operating licence for cannabis retailers.

The AGLC said they’ve received 482 applications for cannabis retail licences as of April 30.

Fencott believes those who’ve already applied to the AGLC for provincial approval should be considered more seriously by the city.

“It’s a very high level of commitment and it’s a heck of a lot of work that goes into that process,” Fencott said.

Trevor Fencott, president and CEO of Fire & Flower, says a lottery system is the opposite of free-market business. (Fire & Flower)

Fire & Flower is vying for 16 permits in Edmonton and if left up to chance, they may have to pull out of some of its retail spaces.

“You can’t invest in lotteries,” Fencott said. 

Coun. Ben Henderson said he was concerned from the beginning about how the city would choose business owners.

In popular areas like Whyte Avenue, which is in Henderson’s riding of Ward 8, it’s going to be a challenge. 

“There’s no way you could fit them all in,” Henderson said. “The only way to do it fairly is to allow everybody to put their application in at the [same] time and draw randomly.” 

Mayor Don Iveson believes the rules around marijuana sales will change over time.

“I suspect this is something that’s going to evolve.”

Before the proposed random selection process, the city plans to accept expressions of interest from May 22 to June 12 and will finish screening applicants by June 20.

City council agreed to revisit the lottery option at a meeting later this month. 

City council considers input from speakers at a public hearing Monday on cannabis zoning bylaws. (CBC)

Council also discussed Monday a zoning bylaw which requires cannabis shops to be 200 metres away from a school or public library and 100 metres away from a park, recreation centre or provincial health–care facility.

It also requires cannabis stores to be 200 metres apart.

A public survey shows distance from schools was the most important part of the separation component of the bylaw.

The city received 4,100 responses to the online survey posted between Nov. 14 and Dec. 7, 2017.  


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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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