Role of local governments and Indigenous Nations in cannabis retail licensing

Last updated on September 29, 2022

To approve and issue a cannabis store licence, the general manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) must have a positive recommendation from either the:

  • Local government with jurisdiction in the area of the proposed store
    • A local government can be a municipality, regional district, or local trust committee for a local trust area under the Island's Trust Act
  • Indigenous Nation if the proposed store location is within an area such as reserve land, Nisga’a land, or treaty land

On this page:

Receiving the application

When a business applies for a cannabis store licence or applies to relocate an existing licence, the LCRB will begin reviewing the application.

After the initial review is complete, the LCRB notifies the local government or Indigenous Nation by email. At that time, the local government or Indigenous Nation can either:

  • Accept the application for consideration
  • Not accept the application for consideration*
    • The general manager cannot issue a licence without a positive recommendation from the local government or Indigenous Nation. This means the LCRB will not proceed with the application and will close it after notifying the applicant. The licence application fee will be refunded.

*Not accepting the application for consideration is not the same as recommending a licence not be issued. If the local government or Indigenous Nation does not accept the application for consideration, the application fee will be refunded. If the local government or Indigenous Nation accepts the application and recommends the licence not be issued, the application fee may not be refunded.

Fit and proper assessment

Once the local government or Indigenous Nation accepts an application for consideration, the LCRB begins the fit and proper assessment. The fit and proper assessment may include security screening and financial integrity checks to assess the suitability of the applicant.

This process can occur at the same time as the local authority’s review of the application. The local government or Indigenous Nation may finalize their recommendation before the fit and proper assessment is complete. 

Learn more about security screenings and financial integrity checks.


A licence may be suspended, cancelled, or subject to a transfer order if the licensee is convicted of an offence under law or bylaw that relates to the operation of the cannabis store.

Additional local licensing requirements

Store location

Local governments or Indigenous Nations can set restrictions on where cannabis stores are located in their jurisdiction.

Business regulations

A business licence may be required from the local government or Indigenous Nation.

Local governments or Indigenous Nations may impose bylaws and conditions of cannabis business licensing. In these cases, it's the responsibility of the local government or Indigenous Nation to enforce these rules and bylaws. 

Local governments and Indigenous Nations may:

  • Limit the store hours
  • Impose other conditions
    • For example, requirements for signage; and
  • Provide the rationale for this request

Reviewing local requirements may add time to the overall licensing approval process. 


Local governments or Indigenous Nations can charge an applicant fees for their assessment of a cannabis store application.

Floor plans

Local governments or Indigenous Nations are not required to provide occupant load stamps or approve floor plans for a cannabis store. The LCRB approves the floor plans.

Making a recommendation to the LCRB

After a local government or Indigenous Nation accepts an application for consideration, they can prepare comments and a final recommendation that either:

  • A licence be issued to the applicant
  • A licence not be issued to the applicant
    • In this case, the general manager cannot issue a licence to the applicant

This process also generally applies to all permanent relocation applications of existing cannabis stores.

Delegating authority 

A municipal council or regional district board may delegate its powers and duties to staff to provide comments and a recommendation to the LCRB. A local government's delegates should be included as part of each new comment and recommendation to the LCRB.

Reconsideration of a cannabis store application

An applicant may ask for the comments and recommendations made by delegated staff to be reconsidered by the council or board. A municipal council or regional district must have procedures for reconsiderations, including how a licence applicant may request reconsideration.

Gathering residents' views

In cases where issuing a licence may affect nearby residents* the local government or Indigenous Nation must gather the views of residents in one or more of the following ways:

  • Collect written comments in response to a public notice
  • Conduct a public hearing
  • Hold a referendum
  • Another appropriate method

Each cannabis store licence or relocation application requires a unique recommendation and comments from the local government or Indigenous Nation, and if applicable, nearby residents. 

*The Indigenous Nation or local government must determine who are considered "nearby residents" of the area.

Timelines on providing comments and financial impacts

There isn't a deadline for local governments or Indigenous Nations to provide comments and recommendations after accepting an application. However, delays in providing comments and recommendations may have financial impacts on the applicant.

If an applicant is responsible for the delay, the local government can notify the LCRB. Applicants are given appropriate notice and a reasonable amount of time to act or respond to the LCRB's licence application process. An application may be cancelled if the applicant is not making efforts to move an application forward.

What to include in comments and recommendation

Local governments or Indigenous Nations that decide to provide comments and recommendations must do so in writing. This may be a formal resolution after reviewing the application. Make sure that the comments and recommendation are clear and meet legislative requirements

The comments must include the local government or Indigenous Nation’s views on the general impact of the proposed store on the community. This can include an evaluation of public input and potential impacts to nearby residents and businesses.

If the nearby residents' views were gathered, you must include:

  • Their views in the comments
    • For example, number of responses received, supportive or opposed, and main areas of concern
  • A description of how they were gathered
    • For example, by public hearing, notices mailed, signs posted

The written comments must clearly state if the local government or Indigenous Nation recommends:

  • The licence be issued or amended or
  • The licence not be issued or amended
    • With reasons for the positive or negative recommendation

In addition to the above, comments and recommendations from the local government or Indigenous Nation may include:

  • The proposed establishment’s physical address (with unit numbers or letter suffixes)
  • Location consideration
    • Including, but not limited to, parking, vicinity to schools or community centers, nearby residents or businesses
  • Supporting documents such as 
    • A staff report
    • Meeting minutes
    • Copy of residents’ views
    • Development permits, if applicable

Submitting the recommendation

To submit comments and a recommendation for a cannabis store licence application, the local authority must

If the comments and recommendation do not meet the legislative requirements or are unclear, the LCRB will work with the local government or Indigenous Nation to provide a new or amended recommendation.