Pubdate: Sat, 09 Dec 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: A11


TORONTO-Communities across Ontario cannot opt out of hosting a
government-run pot shop if they are selected for a site, the
provincial government said Friday after at least one town expressed
resistance to having a cannabis retail location.

If a community is selected to host one of the marijuana shops, it
could delay hosting the store but cannot completely opt out of having
it, said Ontario's Ministry of Finance.

"As we roll out the next phase of stores, we will continue to engage
with municipalities on an ongoing basis including with those
municipalities who may not be ready for a store opening in July 2018,"
said Jessica Martin, spokesperson for Finance Minister Charles Sousa.

"Ultimately, our goal . . . is to ensure a safe and sensible framework
for cannabis legalization."

This week, a committee of the City of Richmond Hill unanimously
endorsed a statement saying it was not willing to host one of the
retail stores. City councillors will debate the motion next week.

The community had been notified in late November that the Liquor
Control Board of Ontario, which will run the shops through a
subsidiary, was beginning early work to site a store in Richmond Hill.
In a report from municipal staff, councillors were told they would
likely only have a say over the zoning of a proposed location.

Martin said the government has consulted with municipalities through
the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

"Municipalities were involved in establishing the initial guidelines
for siting stores, including achieving geographic distribution and
combating illegal dispensaries," she said.

In October, Sousa wrote municipal leaders and said Ontario's store
rollout aims to achieve the right geographic distribution and to
reduce the number of illegal marijuana dispensaries that have opened
since the federal government announced it will legalize recreational
marijuana next summer.

The public will also be notified about the proposed store locations
and will be asked to provide feedback directly to the LCBO, he said.
None of the retail stores will be located near schools, Sousa said.

The LCBO hopes to open its first batch of 40 stores by July 2018. The
province plans to set up approximately 150 stand-alone cannabis stores
by 2020.

All consumers will also be able to access cannabis through an online
retail website.

Association of Municipalities of Ontario executive director Pat Vanini
said reaction to Ontario's plan to retail cannabis has been met with
anxiety by some municipal leaders.

Some cities don't want to be part of the first wave of government-run
cannabis stores, she said.

Last month, the LCBO announced the cities that will host the first 14
stores will be in Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener,
London, Mississauga, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay,
Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.
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MAP posted-by: Matt