St. Catharines opts in for Cannabis Retail sales

From the St. Catharines Standard today: “St. Catharines says yes to pot shops

From City Hall:

St. Catharines Council has opted in to permitting private retail cannabis
stores to locate in the city.

The decision came with unanimous support by Council at its Jan. 14 meeting. In
addition to notifying the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) of its
decision, Council is also requesting the province provide greater regulatory input and
control when it comes to the location of stores in communities.

Council’s motion also called for the creation of a Municipal Cannabis Retail Store Policy
Statement, which will be used as the primary guideline in providing municipal comments to the AGCO in response to applications for stores. Council has requested the policy statement report be prepared for approval on or before February 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. “This decision puts us in a position to work with the province and
stakeholders to optimize the regulations and address local needs.”

The Council decision was made following extensive public engagement on the issue,
including an online survey, landline telephone poll and a public information session held
by City staff in December. Thousands of residents shared their input as part of the
process.

“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.

By opting in, the City is eligible for a minimum of $152,202 in provincial funding through
the Ontario Cannabis Legislation Implementation Fund, which will assist municipalities
with implementation costs such as enhanced police / bylaw enforcement, education,
public health initiatives, increased administration, and more.

Background

The province established a Jan. 22 deadline to receive input from municipalities regarding their willingness to permit retail cannabis stores in their communities. While
Council voted to allow stores to locate in the City, the AGCO is charged with approval, licensing, regulating and enforcement of private cannabis retail stores and will oversee
the stores, which will be operational by April 1.

As part of the first phase, the province has only authorized 25 store licences, with just
seven in the West Region, which includes St. Catharines and stretches from Niagara to
Lake Huron and to Manitoulin Island, and includes Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener,
Waterloo and Windsor, and all areas in southwestern Ontario west of Halton and Peel
Regions and Toronto. The AGCO has conducted a lottery system for the licences and
those selected are continuing the application process.