When it comes to vying for one of Langley’s eight licenses for pot shops, one neighbourhood has a burning desire to get in on the green rush.
It’s Aldergrove, which is not surprising given that until recently one of the largest cannabis growing facilities in Canada was in the area.
In 2016 and 2017, several dispensaries started up locally, largely in Aldergrove. They were hit with repeated bylaw fines from the Township and all eventually closed, with one operator hit with $270,000 worth of fines over the course of several months.
In April, Township council passed regulations that will allow up to eight pot shops to operate, one in each of the seven major neighbourhood, plus one near the 200th Street highway interchange in the Carvolth area.
Since then, the Township has received 18 applications, but they have not been distributed evenly across the community.
The applications, by community are:
Aldergrove – 6
Fort Langley – 3
Willowbrook – 3
Carvolth/200th Street Highway interchange – 2
Walnut Grove – 2
Murrayville – 1
Willoughby – 1
Brookswood – 0
Numbers are expected to keep changing as more applications come forward in the next few weeks.
One of the applicants in Aldergrove is Dave Sharma, who owns several properties in the community and took over the liqour license for the Alder Inn’s liquor store last year.
Sharma said he hopes his involvement and support from the community will help him gain the Aldergrove permit, which he wants to locate in one of his buildings in the 27100 block of Fraser Highway.
“I’m part of the community,” he said.
He anticipates if he opens the cannabis store, he would hire at least five to six employees to staff it. So far, he hasn’t heard back from Township staff about when the Aldergrove applications will be considered.
As for why there are so many more applications for Aldergrove than other neighbourhoods, Randy Caine believes it has to do with locations.
“I wouldn’t say that nobody’s interested [in Brookswood], it’s about trying to find landlords,” he said.
Caine has not applied for a permit for a cannabis business, but he’s a longtime cannabis activist and business owner who started up several Hempyz cannabis-themed novelty stores, with one each in City and Township.
He said it is likely difficult for someone to start up in some areas because you need a location before you can apply, which means finding a landlord willing to host a cannabis shop. Beyond the stigma, that means gaining a lease before it’s certain the application goes through, Caine said, and that means money.
The applications are being processed in the order they are received, but it is not a first-come, first-served matter to determine who gets a permit to operate.
Township staff are expected to make recommendations, and council will be able to make decisions based on the siting and other factors of the applicants. The applications will be going to the council over the next few months.
The new retail outlets, when and if they are approved, will be the first legal retail sources of cannabis in the Township.