Ottawa's 1st legal cannabis shop could open on Wellington Street W.
People behind store called Superette apply to operate between Island Park Drive and Holland Avenue
The first proposal to open a legal cannabis shop in eastern Ontario would see a store on Wellington Street W. near Island Park Drive.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has posted an application by as-yet unnamed people for a store called Superette at 1306 Wellington St. W.
Residents and city officials now have until Feb. 22 to let the AGCO know what they think.
One of the conditions to approve a store location is whether it's in the public interest. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is one of the voices arguing that communities should have more say in where stores end up.
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Retail sales are set to begin across Ontario starting April 1.
Employees at retail locations can start training on Monday. They will be required to complete the Cannsell training program unveiled by the province this week, and will also be required to undergo a criminal background check.
Customers older than 19 will be able to see and smell the products before they purchase them, but stores will have to use locked and tamper-proof containers.
Stores are required to be 150 metres away from any school and can operate between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
They will also have to ensure any products or accessories are not visible from the street.
City councillor supports store
Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents the neighbourhood, said he's not opposed to the proposed store and isn't surprised the applicant picked the area.
"I did have some idea that they were going to be in upscale neighbourhoods. They were going to be in walkable neighbourhoods," he said.
Leiper has been communicating with the applicant for about a week, and said that to his knowledge, the people behind the store plan to follow the rules.
Traffic, parking may be a concern
"I can anticipate that we're likely to have some traffic and parking problems in the early days of its opening, so we'll need to work through that," he added.
Leiper also pointed out that illegal dispensaries have been operating in the area for a couple of years without increasing crime, so he doesn't anticipate a negative impact on the community if this legal dispensary opens.
"It's going to bring a lot of foot traffic into the neighbourhood. I think that's going to be good for the businesses around [it]. Anytime you have what I hope will be a successful retailer, that's just good for the street life of the neighbourhood," he said.
So far, he's heard both positive and negative feedback.
Businesses supportive, curious
A nearby grocery store is pleased at the news.
"I think it will be good for the neighbourhood, bring in more people, more clientele," said Sean Lance of Herb & Spice Shop Wellington.
"As for the community in general, I think it's a good spot. Far enough away from schools, but it's a good area, a progressive area."
Liliana Piazza, owner of the Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli across the street from the proposed cannabis store, said she's curious to see how the outlet will operate.
Her only concerns are that it's clean and professional, and that children don't go inside.
Renata Gorza, who's from Brazil and has been living in Canada for six months, works in the area.
"In my country it's prohibited ... I think it's cool, it's good for the economy, so I think it's great," she said.
Resident Maureen Turner agreed.
"I'm not worried [about] who's going to be on our street because it's there. The same people are going to be walking down this street whether it's there or not," Turner said. "I'm fine with it. It's OK in my neighbourhood."
The AGCO has issued four more licences for eastern Ontario, including Barrie.
The locations of those stores have not been announced and the people behind them have not come forward.
With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan