The City of Regina doesn't plan on charging its legal cannabis retailers a business licence fee, which is in stark contrast to Saskatoon, where a steep $20,000 fee potentially awaits the city's seven future pot shops.
"Unlike Saskatoon, the City of Regina does not require commercial business licences," said Desirae Bernreuther, a spokesperson for the city.
"To do so solely for six cannabis retail outlets would require initiating a licensing regime as one does not currently exist."
"To date, the city has focused on determining appropriate zoning requirements," Bernreuther added. "We are confident we will be ready for the legalization of cannabis."
That's different from Saskatoon, where the cost of regulating the emerging business is top-of-mind.
At a public meeting Wednesday, Randy Grauer with the city said Saskatoon has already spent $150,000 (in staff hours) to prepare for legal pot.
And in a report tabled the same day, the city said it expects those costs to increase once legalization happens and stores begin to take root.
"This includes working with applicants to find an appropriate location that meets the city's regulations, inspecting businesses to ensure regulations are being followed and fielding questions from both business license applicants and the public," according to the report.
Costs in cities vary widely
Business licence fees for cannabis-related businesses range from $191 to $97,000 in Canada and the United States, according to the city.
No other major centres in Saskatchewan have confirmed plans for such a fee, however.
"Nothing has been finalized at this point," said Kiley Bear, a spokesperson for the City of Prince Albert. "The city is still reviewing a number of different options and models."
"To date, there has been no discussion regarding an increased fee different from other business license fees," said Craig Hemingway, a spokesperson for the City of Moose Jaw.
Moose Jaw's fees are based on a business's annual revenue, Hemingway added: $25 for a business making less than $50,000, $125 for $50,001 to $500,000 and $250 for more than $500,000.
Fee trumps other Sask. business costs
In terms of other typical Saskatoon business costs, there is no comparison to the proposed $20,000 pot licence fee, which the city expects to lower to $10,000 for annual renewals.
A licence to sell liquor at either a provincially-licensed store or a restaurant or bar costs $500 in a Saskatchewan city.
Newly-licensed taxi drivers must pay a $375 licence fee.
A standard commercial business licence in Saskatoon costs $125, with annual renewal fees of $85.
Registering a business name for a sole-proprietorship or partnership with Saskatchewan's corporate registry will set you back $115.
Still, a potential $20,000 fee is unlikely to discourage the seven lucky groups who beat out more than 150 others for a cannabis retail permit, says Alex Fallon with the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority.
"Given the amount of interest we've seen in this sector… I don't think it will deter many of the businesses that plan to operate in this (new) space," he said.
Geoff Conn, part of a group who won one of the city's permits, said cannabis being a new type of business leads to higher costs and fees.
"What can we say other than the government makes the rules, set the taxes, licensing and other fees," Conn said.
"Whether we agree with it or not, it's a cost of doing business."