Thunder Bay

Future of first cannabis store in Thunder Bay, Ont. uncertain after city opposes proposed location

The future of Thunder Bay, Ont.'s first brick-and-mortar cannabis store is uncertain after the city opposed the location proposed by retail brand Tokyo Smoke, citing concerns about protecting young people and restricting their access to cannabis.

The final decision to approve a licence for Tokyo Smoke now lies with Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

The future of the first cannabis retail store in Thunder Bay, Ont. remains up in the air as the city and others await a final decision by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. (Gosia Wozniacka/The Associated Press)

The future of Thunder Bay, Ont.'s first brick-and-mortar cannabis store is uncertain after the city opposed the location proposed by retail brand Tokyo Smoke.

The city cited concerns about protecting young people and restricting their access to cannabis.

After winning the opportunity to apply for a retail licence in a provincial lottery earlier this year, Tokyo Smoke proposed to open the store at 1082 Memorial Avenue.

However, during a 15-day public notice period, which ran until December 12, the city of Thunder Bay made a formal submission noting that the proposed location is situated within 150 metres from YES Employment Centre, which the city considers to be a sensitive use area because of the centre's focus on providing programming and services to young people.

The submission said that YES Employment programs identify "young people 'experiencing significant barriers to employment (e.g. facing discrimination, poverty, homelessness, have little or no work experience or a low level of education)' as eligible for services."

Cynthia Olsen, the city's drug strategy coordinator, added, "We know from research that the closer substance use retail stores are to youth, that it can normalize use."

After the closure of the public notice period, Tokyo Smoke received the city's submission along with two others and had five days to respond, which they did prior to December 17.

The final decision about whether or not to grant the provincial retail cannabis store license to Tokyo Smoke now lies with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). 

The AGCO would not say when a final decision would be made, writing in a statement to CBC, "There is no defined amount of time to issue a decision, as each application is on a different timeline."

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