Surrey, B.C. needs cannabis retail stores, says board of trade and city councillor

A flowering cannabis plant is seen at Blissco Cannabis Corp. in Langley, B.C. Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the City of Surrey, B.C., to rethink its bylaws and policies surrounding the cannabis industry.

The board is calling for cannabis retailers to be allowed to operate in the city.

“There is an opportunity for the City of Surrey to create a structured, strategic and responsible policy to allow cannabis operators to exist in Surrey,” said Anita Huberman, Surrey Board of Trade’s CEO and president.

“This includes implementing an efficient cannabis regulatory framework, including amendments to zoning bylaws, business licence bylaws, bylaw notice enforcement bylaws, and municipal ticket information bylaws.

“This type of framework will provide regulations on the locations and operations of cannabis production and processing facilities and retail stores for Surrey.”

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The Surrey Board of Trade has written a “Cannabis Industry Needs Report” which encourages municipal, provincial and federal governments to change policies to make the industry more enticing for business entrepreneurs.

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Surrey city councillor Linda Annis said the decisions made by the previous city council did not align with the federal legalization of cannabis and agrees with the board of trade.

“Last council did not want cannabis stores in Surrey,” she told Global News. “Quite frankly, I disagree with that. Cannabis was made legal a few years ago, and I think Surrey needs to get on board and open stores.”

Annis said maybe limiting the number of stores could be an option, with possibly one in each city centre.

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“It should be accessible for residents that want to use cannabis,” Annis said.

“I think it’s very important we embrace this for the residents of Surrey. Our residents should not have to travel to other municipalities to buy cannabis or buy on the illegal market.”

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke offered a comment late Wednesday afternoon.

“This new council will consider allowing cannabis stores in Surrey,” Locke said in an email.

“I have asked staff to work on a report to develop a measured approach for the potential introduction of retail cannabis locations in Surrey. Once completed, the report will be brought forth to council for consideration.”

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