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The Delta-Surrey cannabis store divide

Delta now has a moratorium on accepting and considering any new applications
The Delta side of the Scott Road corridor has three cannabis stores while dispensaries in Surrey are still prohibited.

Residents in Surrey, where recreational cannabis stores are still prohibited, have been able to cross Scott Road into Delta for products, but it is looking like the City of Surrey will change its policy.

Surrey recently called for public feedback on a draft retail cannabis framework which could result in dispensaries opening throughout that city. Residents have until Feb. 5 to respond.

The framework would, among other things, help establish criteria where dispensaries would be located.

A Surrey staff report last summer noted it has proposed a general framework for regulating cannabis retail stores that would initially limit the number of store locations to one in each of Surrey’s six town centres, as designated in the Official Community Plan. Those areas would include City Centre, Guildford, Fleetwood, Newton, Cloverdale and Semiahmoo. 

Where a city‐owned site is available which meets locational criteria, it may be proposed as the initial location within that town centre and brought to council for consideration of rezoning. 

For those sites, a competitive process will be held to select a business operator, based on criteria and a scoring system.

Where there is no city‐owned site available in a town centre which meets locational criteria, a competitive process would be held to select both a site for rezoning and business operator.

As an initial pilot site, Surrey staff had identified a city‐owned property in the 13400-block of 72 Avenue, within the Newton Town Centre.

The City of Delta currently has eight cannabis stores spread out across Ladner, Tsawwassen, North Delta and industrial areas. The Delta side of Scott Road has three, including a BC government store inside the Scottsdale Centre.

Delta staff are reviewing an application for a ninth store in an industrial area on River Road, a proposal that has not gone to council for rezoning consideration.

The regulation of non-medical cannabis retail stores is overseen by the province’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch through the issuance of licenses. A proposal must be supported by the host local government.

Prior the federal government legalizing cannabis in 2018, Delta council prohibited dispensaries and processing, except where approved by council on a case-by-case basis.

In late 2022, council agreed to impose a moratorium on accepting and reviewing any further applications beyond the nine that were on the books.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring City of Richmond still prohibits cannabis stores, but that does not prevent retailers in other municipalities from doing home deliveries to Richmond residents.