It’s official — Niagara Falls is getting a pot shop.
Near the end of a lengthy council meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Wayne Thomson read a letter from Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa that said “the city of Niagara Falls has been identified for the location of at least one initial cannabis retail store by July 2018.”
Both Mayor Diodati and Coun. Thomson seemed surprised by the notice, which comes as part of the province’s plan to open approximately 150 standalone stores by 2020.
“We’re happy, we’re pleased,” said Mayor Jim Diodati.
“I joke, I often say we offer a buffet of fun and excitement. There’s something here for everyone. And in this case it’s one more offering on the buffet.”
“I was quite surprised at the beginning that we were not part of initial announcement, simply because it’s Niagara Falls and we’re the largest leisure destination in the country.”
He said the store will be located somewhere in the tourist core.
“There will be a portion of the population that will be traveling here to take advantage of those offerings, in the same way that a portion of the population comes here to gamble and a portion is coming here to watch the shows.”
“If you offer something here for everybody, there’s no excuse to go anywhere else.”
Niagara Falls was not on the list of selected cities the province announced in November, which were Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunderbay, Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.
The province also said online distribution will be available across Ontario by July 2018.
According to a 2015 report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 45 per cent of Ontario adults have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, while about 15 per cent have used cannabis in the past year.