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Four Stores Coming to Whistler

Five years after legalization, Whistler, British Columbia has approved four cannabis retail store licenses.

Whistler Removes Cannabis Store Ban

In 2022, the Resort Municipality of Whistler announced they would be opening applications to prospective retailers in the fall. In August of that year, Whistler Council endorsed a cannabis retail policy and in January 2023, finalized bylaw amendments to regulate cannabis retail stores. The municipality received ten applications for Cannabis Retail Temporary Use Permits in March.

Four Stores Approved

The cannabis retail stores that have received approvals to operate and been granted Temporary Use permits are:

  • This is Cannabis
  • Main Street THC
  • Spiritleaf Whistler
  • A Little Bud

The applications were evaluated on criteria in Whistler’s Cannabis Retail Policy to ensure they comply with Whistler’s guiding document, the Official Community Plan. The permits are authorized for three years with one option to renew.

Once applicants have been awarded a Temporary Use Permit, they are required to sign a Good Neighbour Agreement, obtain a provincial Cannabis Retail Store licence, and apply for a business licence. Additional requirements such as building, development and sign permits may also be required.

“The commitments made by applicants throughout this process are significant,” says Mayor Jack Crompton. “I expect each applicant will follow through with these commitments as they move us toward the goals set out in our Official Community Plan.”

First Whistler Retailers

A Little Bud currently operates stores in White Rock, Penticton, Summerland, and Duncan. They were the first cannabis store in White Rock and are excited to be among the first in Whistler.

“The Whistler community is very in demand of cannabis stores,” says Nick Swanson, Director of Marketing. “Whistler is the next frontier for cannabis.”

The municipality designated specific zones for store locations. A Little Bud chose Function Junction, a location that Swanson says is convenient for people in Whistler and a vibrant area, with breweries, businesses, coffee shops, hardware shops, and everything else a community needs. “We want to be part of that,” he adds.

This Is Cannabis currently has locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. “My business partner Ryan and I are owner-operators and we like to spend as much time in the stores as we can,” says owner Cody Les. “Whistler is pretty accessible for us to get to but it is also very important to us – it is a massive international destination. We knew the successful applicants would be representing cannabis retail to a really large global audience, and we wanted to be part of that.”

This Is Cannabis will be the only store right in the main village, nearby the legendary Longhorn Saloon. “We were very thoughtful in where we went and the spot we chose was very competitive,” says Les. “We’re working closely with municipal staff to understand timelines for opening our store. We’re just excited. We’ve taken the application very seriously and are going to bring our best foot forward in serving the market and designing a beautiful store.”

The official store opening dates are unconfirmed as retailers work with the municipality to go through regulatory paperwork and construction.

Other BC Municipalities Uphold Ban

Four municipalities in B.C. still don’t allow legal cannabis: Richmond, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, and Langley City.

The City of Pitt Meadows addressed the lack of cannabis retailers at a council meeting in March 2023. Colin O’Byrne, manager of planning for the city, presented some council policy and bylaw updates for cannabis retail licence applications. The city continues to prohibit all retail sales.

There have been reports that the City of Surrey is considering allowing cannabis stores, after being called on by the Surrey Board of Trade to create a policy that would allow them.

West Vancouver, BurnabyDelta, Coquitlam, The Township of Langley, Abbotsford, and Hope all previously banned cannabis stores but have since allowed them.

Photo courtesy of This Is Cannabis

Tags: BC cannabis retail (25), BC cannabis store (29), BC municipalities (6), British Columbia cannabis (45), cannabis desert (5), Vancouver municipalities (3), Whistler (2)