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Delta shouldn't 'pick and choose' retailers, says McDonald

Some on council said they don’t feel they should be deciding how many retailers of a certain type are allowed to operate in a commercial zone which allows their uses
proposed tsawwassen drug store pure integrative pharmacy
The property’s zoning permits a broad range of health care, hospitality, retail and service commercial uses.

Delta council on Monday voted in favour of granting a variance permit to allow for another drug store to open in the Tsawwassen Town Centre area, despite several letters in opposition stating there are enough already.

Pure Integrative Pharmacy is planning to open a store in a commercial unit at the Tsawwassen Shopping Centre.

A development variance permit was required because there are currently other drug stores nearby. A drug store had previously operated at the same location almost 20 years ago, while another had operated next door until 2020.

A staff report notes that within the city, there are 16 licensed pharmacies and drug stores in North Delta, four each in Ladner and Tsawwassen and three on Annacis Island.

The Pure Integrative Pharmacy would make it five in Tsawwassen.

In Metro Vancouver, only Surrey and Langley City have similar distancing requirements for pharmacies and drug stores.

Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver, pharmacies and drug stores are considered standard retail uses where market forces and consumer demand would determine the appropriate location of such businesses and services within areas zoned for retail, the report notes.

Staff note that a total of 1,395 letters were sent inviting the public to comment.

Of the eight letters received and on council’s agenda, seven were opposed.

Coun. Lois Jackson voted in opposition, saying the letters in opposition brought forward “compelling arguments.”

Coun. Dan Copeland also voted in opposition.

However, Coun. Bruce McDonald said the city had come up with the variance requirement a decade ago when there was a proliferation of pharmacies on Scott Road in North Delta, but he doesn’t believe it’s council’s job to “pick and choose” who can run better stores in a given area.

Coun. Dylan Kruger agreed, saying it’s not council’s job to decide how many retail stores of a certain type, including such businesses as coffee shops, should be allowed to operate in a particular area that has zoning allowing the uses.

The staff report notes a drug store is permitted as a retail use in the zone, while the zoning bylaw does not permit methadone or cannabis to be dispensed or stored on-site.

The application was referred to Delta Police who had no comments.

McDonald, Kruger, Coun. Jeannie Kanakos and Mayor George Harvie voted in favour.

Coun. Alicia Guichon did not attend the meeting.

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