The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has authorized the retail cannabis store RELM Cannabis, located at 4031 Fairview St., unit 103, at the corner of Walkers Line, the Province announced earlier this week — the store was issued its retail operator licence last Wednesday (March 13).
According to the AGCO, once a Retail Store Authorization has been issued, the licensed operator can finalize their store set-up, including ordering and receiving cannabis products and accessories into their store before opening for business.
A final inspection by the AGCO will be done prior to the store’s opening, no sooner than Monday, April 1, in order to make sure the operator is ready to open for business and sell cannabis products to the public in accordance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.
The standards and requirements deal with the following areas:
- store premises, equipment and facilities, including surveillance and security;
- the prevention of unlawful activities;
- advertising and promotional activities;
- training related to the responsible use and sale of cannabis;
- the protection of assets;
- record-keeping and measures to maintain confidentiality and security of records; and
- compliance with the federal cannabis tracking system.
The store is located well outside 150 metres from a school, parks, pools, arenas, libraries or recreation centres and includes several restaurants and retail outlets. For this particular location, the public was given the chance to submit their comments to the AGCO up to March 6. The City of Burlington did not submit comments for this particular location given suitability (please see My Take below for details as to why I believe it is a suitable location).
Burlington City Council is also in the process of creating a task force to develop a set of standard comments we would provide to the AGCO, when applications come forward, that reflect community perspectives on where these should be located. We have heard from the public, they are concerned with protecting public health and safety, as well as our youths and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.
Council and the task force will also be creating guidelines for a made-in-Burlington approach to these stores. I was also appointed as one of four members of a working group at the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), part of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, that will work to develop similar guidelines for suitable locations. The working group includes mayors of two municipalities that opted in and two that opted out of allowing cannabis retail stores, recognizing that our concerns are similar. The guidelines we create will be shared with the AGCO and our municipalities.
My office, in consultation with Halton Regional Police, has also heard the service will be monitoring around the area of the retail cannabis store on Fairview.
As I have said before, this is the kind of location where it is appropriate for accommodating retail cannabis stores in our city. It is more than 150 metres from any school or any of the other locations of particular concern, including parks, pools, arenas, libraries or recreation centres. And it is also along transit routes and near the QEW/Hwy. 403.
I can certainly appreciate there are diversities in our community regarding this topic and that was reflected in the 5-2 vote to allow retail cannabis in our city at Burlington Council. I heard both sides during the town hall meeting I hosted, and through online feedback and delegations that came forward at our committee and council meetings, and continue to receive feedback from the public, which I always welcome. To reiterate, we found a majority of residents felt it was appropriate to have these stores located in Burlington and that too was reflected in the vote at Council.
I also believe having these provincially-licensed and authorized stores located in our city will help combat the black market sale of this product. In consultation with Halton Regional Police, we learned that the cannabis products individuals were purchasing outside of a regulated market are sometimes laced with illegal drugs, such as opioids. We have also received feedback from the public that indicates Burlington has a number of seniors who have gotten off of opioids, which are addictive and lethal, by using cannabis instead.
We will continue to consult with the public through our task force and work to create the guidelines for our made-in-Burlington approach to retail cannabis stores and the consumption of cannabis within our city.