Windsor may be passed over by cannabis licence winners, says lawyer

Cannabis store hopefuls have until Friday, Jan. 25 to submit an application to the province, so they don't want to risk their city of choice opting out at the last minute.

Licence winners want certainty when it comes to choosing a municipality for a shop

City council will vote on whether to opt out of having a cannabis retail store in the city on Monday. (Susan Montoya Bryan/Associated Press)

It might take a while before Windsor gets a retail cannabis store.

Cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser told Windsor Morning that cannabis licence lottery winners don't want to chose a municipality only to find out it's opting out of having stores.

"The province has told [lottery winners] they can wait until after Jan. 22 to submit their store authorization application," said Fraser, but the deadline is just a few days later — Jan. 25.

Fraser said this doesn't give the license owner much time to regroup.

"Basically a week to find another municipality to locate in and negotiate a lease and secure premises," said Fraser.

Fabio Costante says he will be voting not to opt out, despite having some reservations. (Fabio Costante)

Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante said he doesn't think Windsor has waited too long to make a decision.

"There are so many unknowns, it's tough to make a guess on how the market will develop," said Costante. "We're making the decision on Monday and the first store won't open until April. We're making our decision in time."

Costante said the ability to eliminate the black market is huge in terms of public safety, which is one of the reasons he's planning to say yes.

"Municipalities won't have the power to zone cannabis retail, which is going to present a challenge," said Costante, adding council will have a "tough decision" to make on Monday. Costante said he's eager to hear from delegates and take what they have to say into consideration before he finalizes his vote.

Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie said Windsor could have made the decision sooner.

"I think it would be better if there was more clarity," said McKenzie, who believes council is likely to say yes. 

"It is late. Potentially we could have scheduled this issue to come up at the previous meeting to give people across the province a little more clarity," said McKenzie, adding that Windsor just "makes sense" for cannabis retail.

Kieran McKenzie says the city is a good spot for the cannabis business, with it being so close to greenhouses in the county. (Kieran McKenzie)

"You're going to be very close to a number of suppliers," said McKenzie. "It's going to be a good place to locate and invest."

McKenzie hopes the industry will add more jobs to the area. He's leaning towards saying yes, having listened to comments from his constituents. 

The benefit, said McKenzie, is the bridge financing to allow for the transition for communities to open cannabis retail.

"It's about $250,000 the City of Windsor would be looking at," said McKenzie, adding the funding could go to investing in law enforcement resources or dealing with addiction issues. 

A recent survey conducted online by the City revealed that 81 per cent of people who responded favour having cannabis retail shops in the area.

If Windsor's council votes to welcome cannabis retail in the municipality, it will join Essex, Kingsville, Leamington, Sarnia and Chatham-Kent, which have all voted not to opt out.

Windsor will decide Jan. 21.

Municipalities have until Jan. 22 to opt out. If they don't opt out, it's an automatic yes to having cannabis storefronts.

About the Author

Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.


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