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Monday, April 22, 2024
Private retail cannabis stores approved during St. Catharines council meeting

St. Catharines has opened the door for private retail cannabis stores.

After a unanimous vote during the Jan. 14 council meeting in St. Catharines, retail cannabis stores were voted in.

Municipalities had until Jan. 22 to make the decision whether they would allow for retail cannabis stores in their communities.

Council requested the province provide greater input in regulating and controlling store locations.

A Municipal Cannabis Retail Store Policy Statement was created, which will be used as the guideline in providing municipal comments regarding store applications to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Council has requested the policy statement report be prepared for approval on or before Feb. 25.

“Changes in law have made cannabis a legal product and provide controls for the production, distribution, sale and possession of recreational cannabis,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik in a media release. “This decision puts us in a position to work with the province and stakeholders to optimize the regulations and address local needs.”

St. Catharines council conducted research, engaging the community through online surveys, telephone polls and a public information session before making their decision. They gathered input from thousands of residents.

“Thank you to all of the residents who shared their input. Combined with the information from City staff, the public feedback helped Council make an informed decision on this issue,” said Sendzik.

To assist with added costs related to implementing enhanced police enforcement, education and public health initiatives, St. Catharines is eligible for a minimum of $152,202 in provincial funding through the Ontario Cannabis Legislation Implementation Fund.

The province has only authorized 25 store licences. Seven have been authorized in the West Region, including St. Catharines, Niagara, Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Windsor. The AGCO has conducted a lottery system for the licences and those selected are continuing the application process.

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