Manitoba

City should consider limits on retail cannabis locations after number of Winnipeg stores spikes: report

After a dramatic increase in the number of cannabis stores in Winnipeg over the last year, a new report asks city councillors to consider limiting where new ones can open.

Number of stores more than quintupled, from 14 in October 2020 to 73 in October 2021

The inside of Tokyo Smoke's St. Boniface location is shown in an October 2018 file photo. The cannabis retailer's Osborne Village location is part of a cluster of stores in that area, within 50 metres of a Tweed location and less than 100 metres from a Delta 9 store. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

After a dramatic increase in the number of cannabis stores in Winnipeg over the last year, a new report asks city councillors to consider limiting where new ones can open.

Between October 2020 and Oct. 29, 2021, the number of cannabis stores in the city more than quintupled, going from around 14 to 73, according to a new report prepared for the City of Winnipeg's property and development committee.

"That's a significant jump for a city of Winnipeg's size, obviously, especially over the course of a year," Jaclynn Pehota, the executive director of the British Columbia-based Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers, said in an interview with CBC News.

The report recommends the city include cannabis retail zoning regulations in its next omnibus zoning bylaw review.

In June, city councillors asked for a report detailing the location and number of new cannabis stores since the last report in October 2020, as well as information on what other Canadian cities have done to try to prevent clustering of stores.

Two neighbourhoods have cannabis stores within 50 metres of each other, and three neighbourhoods have stores within 50 metres of a sensitive location like a school, playground or park, the report says.

In the Osborne Village area, there are stores within 50 metres of each other at 437 Stradbrook Ave. (Tokyo Smoke) and 120 Osborne St. (Tweed). There's also a Delta 9 store less than 100 metres away, at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne.

Westdale has neighbouring stores at 6500 Roblin Blvd. (Black Tie Cannabis) and 6600 Roblin Blvd. (Old Cannabis Market), with another store about 150 metres down the street (Farmer Jane at 6640 Roblin).

Some other cities have struggled with the rapid growth in the number of new stores. Two Toronto city councillors have called for a temporary moratorium on new cannabis retail licences.

Distancing requirements between stores are effective, says Pehota.

"I believe that those clusters are undesirable," and having stores clumped together "starts to force the question of what's sustainable," she said.

Many Canadian cities have adopted distancing requirements for stores, and those kinds of regulations can help the industry, Pehota said.

Growing issue

Lindsay Somers, the executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone, said the neighbourhood has always been open to new concepts and its density allows for a wide variety of businesses located within a short walking distance.

"It's not surprising that it's a desired location for this segment of retail," Somers said in an email statement.

The Manitoba government originally reviewed the location of new cannabis stores when it approved retail sales in 2018, but that review process was scrapped last year, according to the city's report.

Since then, cannabis retail has been permitted anywhere that is zoned for commercial use.

Provincial governments and municipalities need to work together to ensure cannabis stores are located in the places where communities want them, said Pehota.

Jaclynn Pehota, the executive director of the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers, says provincial governments and municipalities need to work together to develop regulations for the industry. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

"It would be positive, I think, for the city to have a partner in the province of Manitoba … to try and get this right so it's a benefit to everybody who lives there," she said. 

The city's report doesn't make any recommendations regarding what zoning regulations the city should adopt, saying any regulations should come after consultation with community and industry stakeholders.

The property and planning committee will consider the report at its meeting this Thursday.

Cannabis regulations in other cities

Many Canadian cities have set minimum distances between new and existing cannabis retail store locations, according to the city report, including:

  • Saskatoon: 160 metres.
  • Regina: 182 metres.
  • Edmonton: 200 metres.
  • New Westminster, B.C.: 200 metres.
  • Calgary: 300 metres.
  • Victoria: 400 metres.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron MacLean

Online Reporter

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.

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