More than half of Ont. municipalities opt in to host pot stores

Windsor Essex County Health Unit has recommended all municipalities in the region to opt out

Windsor Essex County Health Unit has recommended all municipalities in the region to opt out

More than half of Ontario's eligible municipalities have opted in as willing hosts to cannabis stores in the spring.

If they do not notify the government, "by default, private cannabis retail stores will be allowed within that jurisdiction beginning April 1, 2019", reads the AGCO's website.

A list on the AGCO's website has not yet been updated to reflect Monday votes from cities such as Brampton and Vaughan, but so far 248 municipalities are listed as opting in, while 71 have opted out, and the rest are still listed as unknown.

The 77 municipalities that have opted out will get $5,000 each, the government said.

Those municipalities that opt out of sales, can opt in at a later date if they choose. Now they will have to submit requests for store authorizations, and those will be subject to a 15-day public comment period.

High Tide's entry into the Ontario cannabis retail lottery was not selected, but Kuzyk said the company continues to be in discussions with some of the 25 winners.

Much can change in the next six to 12 months, said Nick Kuzyk, chief strategy officer of retailer High Tide Inc., which has a half-dozen stores open in Alberta and 28 under construction. However, the City of Toronto opted in.

"Not only is it here through black market dispensaries, you can purchase it online ..."

The province has pledged $40 million over two years to help local governments with the costs of legalization, with each municipality receiving at least $10,000.

A first payment was issued on a per household basis, and the government said Wednesday that its second $15-million payment would go to municipalities by the end of February.

Kawartha Lakes is also keen to access that money.

Cannabis Compliance is working with lottery victor Clint Seukeran, owner of CGS Foods Inc., whose first choice for a location, Brampton, opted in, said Boonstra.

"I'm sure the people who signed these petitions are quite disappointed in the results and I will be continuing to advocate for the community that want us to opt-out should a store come to Brampton in my Ward 7 and 8 because I know there are quite a few people who are quite disappointed right now", Charmaine Williams said following the vote. "And it's up to industry and the operators of these 25 stores to earn those opt-ins, and make municipalities feel comfortable".

Oakville will reconsider its decision in December.

Municipalities across the province had a one time option to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores and were given a deadline of January 22 to inform the AGCO.

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