Eleven months after recreational pot was legalized, city officials have approved 209 cannabis outlets with no end in sight to their growing number.
That’s approaching half the number of liquor stores in Calgary, which numbered about 450 in early 2018.
Neither the province nor city have set limits on the number of retail outlets eligible for approval, which means there could ultimately be many more than those 209 stores in Calgary.
“We never intended to restrict or put a limitation on cannabis stores in Calgary, just the separation distances between stores,” said Brandy MacInnis, a senior planning and policy strategist for the city.
City regulators continue to see a steady trickle of three to five new applications for cannabis outlets each month and are currently reviewing five of them.
MacInnis said another 105 proposals have been rejected, the majority due to being too close to other such stores or amenities such as schools or daycares.
Regulators also have discretion to reject an application due to public opposition, she added.
Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward contains a cluster of the stores in the Kensington area, said she’s heard very little opposition to cannabis outlets.
“I don’t think that’s really happening,” said Farrell.
But in months past, she said, there have been some complaints that the subdivision and development appeal board, which issues decisions on challenges to city-approved locations, has overruled proximity rules in some cases.
But, ultimately, said Farrell, the market, not governments, will decide how many cannabis stores set up shop and remain in business.
“I can’t imagine all of them will be successful . . . I don’t think there’s been a commensurate increase in cannabis use,” she said.
“I still support the proximity rules and, despite them, we still have an ample number of locations operating.”
Of the 209 city-approved stores, the final arbiter, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis has approved 63 stores in Calgary, though not all of those are operating.