NORTH DELTA - When is too many pharmacies too many pharmacies?
Delta council is trying to figure out why 17 of the municipality's 26 pharmacies are in North Delta, with most of them along Scott Road.
The competition, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said, "has to be" ferocious.
"Why the need? What is the matter? We're trying to figure out exactly why we have so many," she said. "We want to have a nice mix of uses along Scott Road. It's not only the Delta side, but the Surrey side.
"It doesn't really make for a pleasant shopping experience."
Besides the 17 pharmacies in North Delta, there is one on Annacis Island, four in Ladner and four in Tsawwassen.
In comparison, Surrey has 11 pharmacies along Scott Road, between Highway 10 and 96th Avenue.
Some concerns linked to pharmacies are the dispensing of methadone to help wean addicts off heroin, and the potential for Oxycodone robberies.
According to the B.C. College of Pharmacists, 15 of Delta's pharmacies dispense methadone to patients in the B.C. Methadone Maintenance Program and of those, 10 are in North Delta. There are on average seven methadone patients per pharmacy in North Delta.
Such pharmacies are now considered "legal non-conforming" under a new Delta business bylaw excluding more methadone dispensaries.
Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford said his police force hasn't had any problems with existing pharmacies.
He said they were monitoring one that was "a bit of a concern," but "for the most part they're all being very well run."
"We're good with that," Cessford said. "They're established, reputable pharmacies."
Nor have the Delta police encountered any "serious problems" with Oxycodone or other pharmacy-related robberies or break-ins, Cessford said, as most no longer dispense the addictive painkiller.
"They don't seem to be as problematic as they used to be."
Delta council has instructed municipal staff to continue to monitor business licences for pharmacies and drug stores and report annually to the politicians.
In Surrey, the RCMP's robbery section is not currently seeing a trend in pharmacy robberies, said Curtis Harling, a spokesman for the Surrey RCMP.
Surrey council passed a bylaw in 2008 to limit the proliferation of methadone-dispensing drug stores that were attracting drug addicts - and drug dealers - from around the Lower Mainland.
There were 18 pharmacies in Whalley at the time.
"We don't permit stand-alone dispensaries," Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said.
"If it's a full-service drug store, then we have no issue with that."
Meantime, Jackson also has a sex shop on Scott Road in her sights.
"I don't think a majority of people in North Delta like that sort of thing," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, we're going to have to bring some bylaws in."
Delta council has referred the issue of sex shops along Scott Road to the Invest in North Delta Mayor's Standing Committee and the North Delta Area Plan Committee.
It was carried unanimously.
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