From 20 applications, Langley Township council is on track to approve just two cannabis shops across the community.
On Monday, the council voted on five applications that had made it through a policy that graded each store location on seven criteria.
The Township last year approved a plan that would have allowed up to eight shops, one each in the neighbourhoods of Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, Willoughby, Brookswood, Murrayville, Walnut Grove, and Aldergrove, plus one in the Carvolth area near the 200th Street highway interchange.
Council ultimately voted in favour of third reading only to stores in the Carvolth area and in Aldergrove.
Stores located in Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, and the Willowbrook business area were defeated.
Much of the council was uncomfortable with either approving more than a few locations, or with some of the applications for specific reasons due to their placement.
Councillor Eric Woodward said he was concerned that Langley Township would become a “cannabis retail destination” because Surrey and Langley City have yet to approve any cannabis retail outlets.
He wanted a delay in voting while staff asked neighbouring communities about their delay in allowing cannabis stores, but a majority of council disagreed and decided to vote immediately.
“We need to neutralize the black market,” said Kunst.
She noted that multiple communities with fewer than 100,000 people around the province have two or three cannabis shops already.
“Vernon has 14,” said Kunst. The Township has around 125,000 residents.
Other councillors were more than happy to restrict the number of cannabis shops to fewer than the eight recommended in the Township’s own policy.
“I’m only at this time prepared to endorse a couple,” said Coun. Bob Long.
Councillors generally said they were voting against the Walnut Grove and Fort Langley applications because the Carvolth location would be sufficient to serve the North Langley area, and because Walnut Grove residents had opposed the planned location there.
Another location, in the former Pizza Hut in the 6200 block of 200th Street in Willowbrook, was defeated as councillors had concerns about its strong visibility, teenagers near the mall, or its location close to a boundary with Langley City.
That location was to have been a provincially-operated cannabis shop, while the other four were private applications.
Woodward was also highly critical of the process that led to the two approvals from more than 20 applicants.
“I don’t know how we could have come up with a process more unfair to applicants and the business community than this one,” he said.
There was to have been another application, at 72nd Avenue and 208th Street, but that application appears to have stalled on the side of the proponents, according to Mark Bakken, the Township’s administrator.