Pubdate: Sat, 02 Dec 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Megan Gillis
Page: A4


A Carlington pot shop won't reopen after a fire now being probed by
arson investigators, says a city councillor who's long been opposed to
the illicit enterprise.

The owners of Ottawa Cannabis Dispensary did not respond to an
interview request but Coun. Riley Brockington said that they told him
Friday that the Laperriere Avenue shop had closed before it was gutted
by an early morning fire and they are no longer in the business.

Brockington is disappointed that arson is suspected in the fire, which
was near homes and across the street from a Montessori school. Nearby
businesses include an auto body shop with a stack of tires, and a chip
truck out front with a large propane tank.

Kim To has operated the chip truck for more than a decade and was in
tears Friday morning when she arrived to her rented spot and surveyed
the damage.

"I'm so scared," she said, adding that anyone who'd start a fire so
near a propane tank is "crazy."

To was relieved, however, that her truck didn't appear damaged and she
hoped to reopen her small business soon.

"We're in a residential community - these things cannot happen,"
Brockington said, adding that if arson occurred the perpetrators must
be brought to justice, whatever the target.

But, he said, "hopefully a legitimate legal enterprise that the
community actually needs and wants and welcomes will move in."

Brockington has long spoken out against the fast-growing illegal
industry. Medical marijuana is only legal if purchased from a producer
licensed by Health Canada - not an unregulated storefront - and sent
by registered mail.

"It is no secret in the community that this location was the home of
an illegal marijuana dispensary and one that I did not support at all
from Day One," the River Ward councillor said. "They opened up without
any permission or advance notice … it's been very challenging over the
last 18 months to get the police more involved in addressing the
matters of this dispensary being located here on Laperriere. "That's
not because I didn't try." Police explained to him that the drug unit
has a "near-infinite" workload and had to triage enforcement,
Brockington said. However, the store was officially warned twice that
it was violating zoning bylaws.

Ottawa police arson investigators spent much of Friday at the gutted
pot shop, a small bungalow painted bright green with a white cross,
surrounded by yellow police tape. A red plastic gas can still sat on a
wheelchair ramp leading to the shop.

Dispensary owner Deep Singh was seen talking to investigators.

A patrolling police officer saw smoke at 1562 Laperriere Ave. at 2:04
a.m. and called in the fire department. A gas can was on fire in front
of the business and flames had spread to the building.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was coming out of the front door and
they quickly declared a working fire.

The fire was under control by 2:23 a.m.

Damage is estimated at $100,000. Paramedics and power and gas services
were all called to the scene. No one was injured.
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