The City of Surrey has proposed allowing up to 12 cannabis dispensaries within city limits after being opposed to the same notion for years.
The city posted the Retail Cannabis Framework Survey online Monday and residents have until Feb. 5 to submit feedback on the matter. City Council members started considering the possibility of having pot shops last year.
The Surrey Board of Trade applauded the move. The business organization says the cannabis industry continues to benefit the economy and create employment opportunities. It published a report in 2023 advocating for lifting the ban.
“Surrey can implement a safe and efficient cannabis regulatory framework,” Board President and CEO Anita Huberman said.
If the proposal moves forward there will be a maximum of two shops in each of Surrey’s six communities. Vancouver, the only larger municipality in the province, currently has 80 dispensaries.
“While Surrey moving away from being a retail desert five years after legalization is certainly progress, the ratio of one store for 47,000 people is, frankly, ridiculous,” Deepak Anand, renowned cannabis industry figure and Surrey resident, said.
He says Surrey easily has the capacity for 80 or more stores as well based on the number of residents.
Surrey mayor opposed to dispensaries in the city
Despite Surrey’s City Council and Board of Trade seriously considering allowing a series of stores in the municipality, the mayor isn’t enthusiastic about the idea.
“While I personally do not support the introduction of cannabis retail operations in the City of Surrey,” Mayor Brenda Locke said, “the survey will provide valuable insight into the views of residents.”
However, City Councillor Doug Elford felt differently about having pot shops in the city. He says it’s important to get away from the stigma of cannabis and that it’s not the devil’s lettuce like many used to think.
“People are getting in their cars, they’re driving to White Rock, Langley or Delta to get their product when they should be able to walk and have easy access to cannabis,” Elford said. He says it has a lot of medicinal value.
Richmond residents, who have to get their cannabis in Vancouver or elsewhere due to a similar ban, may be able to do their pot shopping in Surrey as well soon. Opening dispensaries in the city could help cause a decline in illicit sales.