A cannabis dispensary proposed for North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre is one step closer to final approval following a public hearing last month.
On Feb. 15, council unanimously gave third reading to an application to open a government-owned BC Cannabis Store inside the mall at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road.
The dispensary would be operated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), which also runs a liquor store in the mall, and located next door to the liquor store in the space currently occupied by Puppies, Fish & Critters.
The store would include 145 square metres (1,561 sq. ft.) of retail floor area and 102 square metres (1,098 sq. ft.) for office and storage, and employ eight to 12 people. There would be no cultivation, processing or manufacturing of cannabis products within the store, and all the products sold in the store would be packaged and sold in accordance with Health Canada requirements.
Prior to the public hearing, the city had received four pieces of correspondence in support of the application and 32 opposed, as well as one letter expressing concerns and a petition against the dispensary with 451 signatures.
Many of those opposed expressed concerns about the store’s proximity to local schools and related impact youth, while others cited worries relating to increased crime and impaired driving.
Two people spoke at the public hearing — one for and one against the dispensary.
Thomas Belegris, who owns a business in Scottsdale Centre, said the cannabis store would increase foot traffic in the mall, benefiting the numerous small businesses that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Delta resident Daniel Chen said he was opposed to the dispensary because of its proximity to elementary and secondary schools. He also expressed concern about the selling of edible cannabis products, citing packaging and products (candies and cookies) that may be appealing to minors.
BC Liquor Distribution Branch representative Ryan McKeown, in his presentation to council, noted the edibles sold in the store would be in child-resistant plain packaging and limited to 10 milligram servings. Access to the store would be limited to adults 19 and over with two pieces of ID, while design features such as a two-stage entryway and frosted windows would prevent minors from seeing inside.
Deputy city manager and director of community planning and development Marcy Sangret noted the closest schools — Cougar Canyon Elementary and Seaquam Secondary — are both more than 700 metres away, and the nearest park — Cory Drive Park — is over 400 metres away.
A prior review of the application by city staff found the proposed dispensary’s location met or exceeded the average requirements of other local governments. Delta does not have a policy or bylaw regarding the location of dispensaries as they are prohibited under the city’s zoning bylaw except on a case-by-case basis.
A report by city staff says that both the city’s community planning and development department and the Delta Police Department reviewed the application and neither anticipates any impacts to the community. The report also notes the Delta School District said the location was “a fairly large distance” from its nearest school
At the public hearing, Councillor Dan Copeland asked where store’s supply of cannabis would come from, in particular whether the LDB buys from licensed home-based growers, saying he wants to “get away from” cannabis production in residential areas.
McKeown said he couldn’t really speak to the question as licensing of cannabis producers falls to a different branch of government (Health Canada). However, he did say the LDB is a cannabis wholesaler and as such has mechanisms in place to evaluate licenced producers.
In a special council meeting immediately following the public hearing, Mayor George Harvie said he was in full support of the application, but he shared Copeland’s concerns about who the LDB purchases their cannabis from, citing past issues with residential “grow-ops” licensed by Health Canada whose locations the city was unaware of, many of which he alleged were associated with organized crime.
“I support ensuring that we’re moving, as you said Councillor Copeland, moving this product away from the black market to where it is regulated the same as any other lawful product,” Harvie said.
“I hope that someday we can get rid of all of the growing of cannabis in residential homes. It was a bad decision by the government of the day, and it remains a bad decision today.”
Harvie asked staff to write the provincial government on behalf of council and ask where the supply of cannabis is coming from.
“I would like to see that prior to us considering fourth reading.”
If approved, the BC Cannabis Store inside Scottsdale Centre would be the city’s third dispensary, and second in the Scott Road corridor.
In late November, 2021, council approved the city’s first dispensary, located at 616 Chester Road on Annacis Island. The 93-square-metre store will be operated by Seed & Stone and is slated to open in March of this year.
On Jan. 24, 2022, council gave final reading to Inspired Cannabis Co.’s application for a dispensary 120 – 8077 Scott Road (Delta Shoppers Mall, next door to JYSK). The dispensary will include 156 square metres (1,679 sq. ft.) of retail storefront and 98 square metres (1 ,055 sq. ft.) for office and storage.
Another three cannabis dispensary applications have been received by council for information and are under review by city staff before making their way back for council’s approval.
All three are being pitched for South Delta: one at 5128 Ladner Trunk Road (Ladner Centre Mall) and one at 100 – 1179 56th Street (Bayside Village Mall) — both of which would be operated by Inspired Cannabis — and another at 1274 56th Street (Tsawwassen Shopping Centre) by Queensborough Cannabis Co.
Two more dispensaries are being proposed in North Delta, though to date neither application has made its way before council. Queensborough Cannabis is looking to open a store at 7227 Scott Road (Scott 72 Centre), while Kushi Cannabis Co. is hoping to open a location at 10190 River Road, next door to Tidewaters Pub.