Bongy’s future hazy after B.C. town toughens up on pot shop
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:41AM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 18, 2013 10:02AM PST
So long, Bongy.
The owner of a highly publicized pot paraphernalia store on Vancouver Island says he’s packing up and leaving town after council voted to dramatically increase the cost of his business license.
In a five-minute segment on the Colbert Report last month, comedian Stephen Colbert travelled to Esquimalt to take a look at The Bong Warehouse, owned by Ryan Place, and its eight-foot-tall mascot named Bongy.
Some councillors said at the time they’d fight back against the controversial business and now they’ve made their move. In a council vote Monday, the town raised the cost of head shop business licenses from $100 to a whopping $2,000 per year.
“They’re trying to run us out of town and they’ve succeeded,” Place told CTV News. “It’s a very bad message. It says, ‘If we don’t personally like you to fit our specific moral goals, then we’ll run you out of town.’”
Even though Place said the raised license fee is too much for his store to stay in Esquimalt, city officials aren’t exactly lamenting its inevitable move elsewhere.
“What I say to Mr. Place is ‘I’ll help you pack,’” said Coun. Dave Hodgins.“If your business is the type of business that requires additional staff time, additional attention – that’s a cost to Esquimalt, that’s a cost to taxpayers and we’re passing on that cost.”
Place is now holding a clearance sale as he plans to pack up his store and move to a more pot-friendly place.
Monday's council vote raising the business license for bong shops also targets short-term money lenders.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos