With the deadline looming for Ontario municipalities to decide whether to opt in or out of allowing cannabis retail stores within their boundaries, many communities remain undecided.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22, 2019 to opt out of having private cannabis storefronts operate within their boundaries. If the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has not received written notification from a municipality by the Jan. 22 deadline, private cannabis retail stores will be allowed within their jurisdiction by default.
According to the AGCO, if a municipality chooses to opt out, it is able to opt back in at any time, however once a municipality opts in it will no longer able to opt out.
If a municipality chooses to opt in, it will have little say as to where cannabis retail stores will be located within the community. That decision is left up to the AGCO, which will be responsible for approving or denying site applications for retail cannabis stores.
However, regulations from the province say retail cannabis stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools and must bar anyone under the age of 19 from entering.
The provincial regulations will allow the retail stores to be operate daily between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Retail stores are expected to open in the province beginning April 1, 2019.
Here is a list of municipalities that have formally opted in or out of allowing retail cannabis stores in their communities, according to the AGCO.
Municipalities that have opted in
- Township of Armour
- Township of Dawn-Euphemia
- Township of East Ferris
- Municipality of Highlands East
- Township of Johnson
- Township of Nairn and Hyman
- Township of the North Shore
- Township of Plummer Additional
- Township of Prince
- Township of Spanish
- Township of Tarbutt
On Thursday, after a five-hour special meeting, Ottawa city council unanimously decided to opt in and allow pot shops within the city.
During a meeting on Thursday afternoon, Toronto city council voted 20-to-4 in favour of allowing cannabis retail stores to operate within the city under a provincial licensing regime.
As of Friday morning, the AGCO website did not reflect that Ottawa or Toronto had opted in.
Municipalities that have opted out
- Town of Erin
- Township of Frontenac Islands
- Town of Ingersoll
- Township of King
- Township of Lake of the Woods
- City of Markham
- City of Mississauga
- Township of Papineau-Cameron
Many municipalities still undecided
With a little over a month to go until the deadline, many municipalities are still mulling over the decision.
In Guelph, a staff report suggested opting in would be the best course of action for the city. The newly formed council is scheduled to vote on the matter during a meeting at city hall on Dec. 17.
North of Toronto, the Town of Newmarket has asked for the public’s input. Town council is expected to make its decision on whether or not to allow the retail stores within the community on Jan. 7.
Town councillors in Innisfil were provided a report regarding cannabis stores on Wednesday. The town says the results of a community consultation on the matter will also be provided to council on Jan. 9 before members are expected to decide whether to opt in or out.
Barrie’s city council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its first meeting back in the new year on Jan. 7.
The City of Windsor has launched an online survey asking residents for their take on whether cannabis retail stores should be allowed in the city. Respondents have until Jan. 4 to share their opinions.
Similarly, residents in Kingston had until Wednesday to fill out an online survey to voice their opinions on whether the municipality should allow retail stores. The findings of that survey will be provided to council in early January.
The City of Hamilton’s general issues committee is scheduled to hold a special meeting on Dec. 18 to discuss whether or not to allow pot shops in the municipality.
In Waterloo, the issue of allowing retail cannabis stores within the city will go before council on Jan. 14.
Further west in London, the city’s Community and Protective Services Committee voted unanimously in favour of allowing private retail pot shops. The decision will now go to city council next week.