Do Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows need more cannabis stores?

Geoff Dear is the president of Muse Cannabis, which has multiple locations across B.C., including one in Maple Ridge. Photo courtesy Muse Cannabis

British Columbia recorded nearly $670 million in cannabis revenue in 2022 – a $117 million increase from 2021.

But the success of B.C.’s cannabis industry varies greatly from city to city.

In Maple Ridge, Burb Cannabis became one of the province’s newest additions after opening its doors on Feb. 24, giving the city its fifth cannabis store.

Although the company already had locations in four other cities, they felt there was a unique opportunity in Maple Ridge, said Burb Cannabis co-owner Steve Dowsley.

“From an economic standpoint, Maple Ridge took a fairly measured approach to its policy in terms of the number of (cannabis) stores,” Dowsley said. “If you look at a city like Vancouver, they have significantly more stores per capita. This makes Maple Ridge more attractive than many other municipalities.

“I also live in Maple Ridge and love being a part of the community. It gives me an opportunity to give even more back to my hometown.”

Maple Ridge city councillors and Mayor Dan Ruimy joined Burb Cannabis’ co-founders Steve Dowsley and John Kaye at the February grand opening of their Maple Ridge location. Photo courtesy Burb Cannabis

Even with his new store now serving the community of Maple Ridge, Dowsley feels like there could be an opportunity for another cannabis store to thrive in the city.

“Something up on Dewdney might make sense, so it’s nicely spread out,” he said. “East Maple Ridge only has Cheeky’s so there is an easy argument for another store.”

However, not everyone agrees. Geoff Dear, president of Muse Cannabis, believes that the city has already reached its optimal number of cannabis retailers.

“We feel that Maple Ridge is well-serviced for cannabis stores and are concerned about new store openings,” Dear said. “The current amount of stores is more than enough.”

Looking at the number of licensed cannabis retailers in B.C., there does appear to be a big difference in the amount of Maple Ridge locations versus cities of comparable size.

Maple Ridge, with a population of approximately 90,000 people, currently only has about one cannabis store per 18,000 residents.

Meanwhile, the similarly sized cities of Kamloops, Chilliwack and Victoria, have one store per approximately 6,500 residents, 11,500 residents, and 3,000 residents, respectively.

The ratio of cannabis stores to residents for Maple Ridge could get even lower when factoring in neighbouring Pitt Meadows, which has zero cannabis retailers, forcing many of its 19,000 residents to also shop at Maple Ridge stores.

That’s a big part of why Dowsley chose a location close to the border between the two cities.

“We are right on Lougheed Highway and have ample parking,” Dowsley said. “Being on an arterial road and having lots of parking is critical. The rush hour home will be our busiest time as people can be in our store, with their product, and back on the road in minutes.”

“Expectations of the Maple Ridge store is that it will perform above average.”

The city’s two-year-old Muse Cannabis location, also close to the Pitt Meadows border, reported similar success.

“Our store continues to grow and have success this year and is one of our best locations for sales,” Dear said.

The City of Pitt Meadows recently addressed this lack of cannabis retailers at the March 7 council meeting, where Colin O’Byrne, manager of planning for the city, presented some council policy and bylaw updates for cannabis retail licence applications.

“On Nov. 8, 2022, a zoning application was brought forward for a cannabis retail outlet at Meadowtown Mall,” O’Byrne said.

“At the time, staff noted that we didn’t have any guiding policy to assess such applications, nor a fee structure in place. So we took that away, and in the process of considering the policy, we also took feedback from the economic development advisory committee.”

O’Byrne introduced the new policy, which includes criteria that cannabis retailers should be located:

  • Within the urban containment boundary
  • On a property designated as highway commercial, community commercial, or town centre mixed use
  • At least 200m from a school, playground, or sports field
  • At least 500m from another cannabis store

The policy changes allowing cannabis retail applications were passed by the council, so Pitt Meadows may soon get its first cannabis store in the near future, with the original application from last November still needing to come back to council for first and second readings.

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