Whistler will finally see its first cannabis shops in 2023, five years after Canada legalized the controlled substance.
On Jan. 10, Whistler’s mayor and council approved zoning amendment bylaws to allow up to five cannabis shops to operate in the resort.
The bylaws allow cannabis shops in five of Whistler’s commercial areas: Nesters Plaza, Village North, Village Centre, Creekside and Function Junction. The notable exception is the Rainbow neighbourhood, due to its proximity to Whistler Secondary School, as municipality's cannabis policy bans stores within 300 metres of schools and the Meadow Park Sports Centre. The policy also requires cannabis shops in the village to be located off the Village Stroll.
Under the new bylaw, cannabis retailers hoping to set up shop in the municipality will have to apply for a temporary use permit (TUP). Operators also require a provincial Cannabis Retail Store Licence and a $190 annual business licence from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).
On top of the TUPs, the RMOW expects applicants to submit a community impact statement that addresses the retail policy's guiding principles and meets various evaluation criteria.
According to the RMOW's cannabis retail policy, the evaluation criteria includes providing staff housing and a living wage to employees, demonstrating climate leadership, and a commitment to Whistler’s community health and social strategy goals.
Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton said he is happy the cannabis file is finally past the last of the bylaw hurdles and will now start the permitting process.
"I'm looking forward to the TUP process and seeing what kind of applications we get back,” Crompton said. "This was the last legislative bylaw piece we had to put in place so that that process can be.”
With the new bylaws passed, a designated intake period will begin, which allows the RMOW to consider complete cannabis retail TUP applications in a batch application process. Applications are set to open Feb. 13.
The approval to create Whistler’s first legal cannabis shops has been a long time coming. While the RMOW adopted a Cannabis Retail Policy in August 2022, work started on the policy back in February 2021.
Learn more about the RMOW’s cannabis policy and bylaws at whistler.ca/cannabis.