Plans for a government-run store ready to sell cannabis in the territory in time for legalization may be in trouble because the cost of a retail and warhouse location is turning out to be more than projected. (pe3check/123RF)

Yukon’s government-run pot store might not be ready in time for legalization

Only bid for retail space comes in at $3.4M — more than YG’s entire startup budget

Plans for a government-run store ready to sell cannabis in the territory in time for legalization may already be in jeopardy.

Yukon Liquor Corporation officials say the only bid to sell a store location in Whitehorse came in over budget.

Now the government is “evaluating all their options since the price was higher than anticipated,” said spokesperson Patch Groenewegen.

The only bid that came in to become the location of the Yukon government’s new cannabis retail store and warehouse was submitted by Waterstone Products, which has a storefront on Quartz Road. The purchase price came in at $3.4 million, according to the government’s tender management website.

That price tag is more than the entire startup budget for cannabis sales in the 2018-19 territorial budget.

The liquor corporation’s budget only includes $3 million to cover start-up costs associated with the legalization of cannabis. That’s supposed to cover the cost to purchase inventory and train staff as well as potential facility costs, according to the corporation.

Groenewegen couldn’t say what portion of that money was supposed to pay for the building. The government’s original request for proposals was looking for space to either lease or buy.

“It was anticipated that the start-up funding would cover the costs in a lease scenario, or for (a) smaller size facility, which we sought through the RFP process (4,500 square feet),” she clarified in a later email.

The original request for proposals set the minimum square footage for a location at approximately 4,500 square feet or 415 square metres. It did not set a maximum size.

The only bid was for “a much bigger facility,” making costs “higher than anticipated,” she said.

If the government does have to buy a building, it could already be blowing its budget before the document has even been passed by the legislative assembly.

“If the Yukon government proceeds with the purchase of a new cannabis facility, we would need to seek additional funding to be captured in a future supplementary budget,” the email said.

Last year Premier Sandy Silver said Yukon would have a physical location to buy cannabis in time for legalization. That was originally supposed to be by July though Ottawa now says it likely won’t happen before August or September.

Yukon officials have always been working under a tight deadline. The original request for proposals, which closed at the end of February, said the space had to be ready on or before May 29.

For now the government will only say it is “evaluating our options and next steps” and that “details of the operating model will be shared in the coming weeks.”

In an earlier interview Groenewegen agreed it was possible the store wouldn’t be ready in time for legalization.

“We remain confident that Yukon consumers will have legal access to non-medical cannabis once legalized in Yukon and Canada,” she said in her later email.

The Yukon has been planning for online sales along with a physical location.

The option for private retailers is also something that has been promised for the future.

Recent zoning amendments passed by Whitehorse city council mean that the government can only locate its store in the Marwell neighbourhood.

John Streicker, the minister responsible for the liquor corporation has previously said territorial government was fine with the the city’s restrictions.

Groenewegen said the government did a scan of properties in Marwell and were “hopeful” that property owners in the area would bid.

She said the government’s request for proposals met procurement standards.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Legalized MarijuanaYukon government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 21, 2020

Movie poster for <em>Ìfé,</em> a movie being shown during OUT North Film Festival, which includes approximately 20 different films accessible online this year. (Submitted)
OUT North Film Festival moves to virtual format

In its ninth year, the artistic director said this year has a more diverse set of short and feature films

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Most Read