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Q-and-A’s on Legal Cannabis and the City of Burlington

Photo by Get Budding on Unsplash
Photo by Get Budding on Unsplash

As the Province announces more applications being processed for legal cannabis stores to be potentially located in Burlington, my office has been receiving questions from residents and the community. Below you’ll find a timeline of events since the federal government legalized cannabis and some Q-and-A’s relating to cannabis and retail stores in our city.


  • On Oct. 17, 2018, the federal government legalized recreational cannabis in Canada. The minimum age for use of cannabis is 19, the same as for alcohol. The provincial government gave municipalities in Ontario a one-time offer to opt out of having cannabis stores in their communities;
  • On Jan. 14, 2019, Burlington City Council voted to allow the operation of retail cannabis stores in Burlington;
  • On May 27, 2019, City Council approved a set of municipal cannabis retail store guidelines and criteria for preferred locations and other considerations regarding cannabis stores in Burlington;
  • Earlier in May 2019, a resolution was brought forward by the subcommittee of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) that I sit on with three other mayors – two from jurisdictions that do not allow cannabis stores, and two that do. That resolution recommended changes to provincial regulations to give municipalities greater control over locations and proliferation of stores and was approved by LUMCO and forwarded to the province;
  • To date, there are two retail cannabis stores in Burlington;
  • On Aug. 20, 2019, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released the results of the cannabis retail store lottery draw it held on Aug. 20, 2019 and gave notice that Burlington can expect at least two more potential cannabis retail stores, if approved, at 1505 Guelph Line and 1025 Plains Rd. E.;
  • The AGCO has notified the 42 selected applicants that they may now apply for a cannabis Retail Operator Licence and a Retail Store Authorization. Applicants had until Aug. 28, 2019 to apply, at which point the AGCO will begin undertaking its full eligibility and licensing review. The AGCO will only licence applicants and authorize stores that meet all legal and regulatory requirements. As part of the licensing review, a 15-day public notice period will take place where the public may submit written comments to the ACGO about the application;
  • Retail cannabis stores in our city must be more than 150 metres from any school, as per Provincial mandate. The LUMCO resolution and criteria/guidelines passed by Burlington Council both state that a store should strive to maintain a minimum 500 metres buffer distance from sensitive land uses, such as schools.


  • Is there a maximum number of stores that can be located in Burlington?
    • No. The provincial Cannabis License Act does not place a maximum on the number of stores that can be located in a city. This latest allocation of stores from the AGCO permit the GTA Region (of which Burlington is a part) to have up to 6 stores. This is in addition to the stores already located in the GTA Region.
  • Why are so many stores coming to Burlington?
    • On Jan. 14, 2019, Burlington City Council voted to allow the operation of retail cannabis stores in Burlington. Some other municipalities in the GTHA choose to opt out of having retail stores in their city. Since that time, the Province has been gradually rolling out stores.
  • Are any of the proposed stores in Burlington located near schools?
    • Provincial guidelines state that the retail stores have to be more than 150 metres from any school. The city and residents have the opportunity to comment on proposed locations if they are deemed to be too close to schools. Burlington City Council has also approved a set of guidelines that state our recommended distance is 500 metres from sensitive areas, such as schools.
  • Do citizens have any input into cannabis retail stores opening in Burlington?
    • When the ACGO is reviewing an application for a cannabis Retail Operator Licence and a Retail Store Authorization, a 15-day public notice period is held during which time, the public and the city may submit written comments to the ACGO about the application.
  • Who will the AGCO accept submitted comments from?
    • The AGCO will accept submissions from:
      • A resident of the municipality in which the proposed store is located; and
      • The municipality representing the area in which the proposed store is located and/or its upper-tier municipality.
  • What should the comments submitted to the AGCO relate to?
    • Comments submitted to the AGCO should relate to the following matters of public interest:
      • Protecting public health and safety;
      • Protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis; and
      • Preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.
  • Can we expect to see Burlington get more cannabis stores in the future?
    • It is possible that Burlington may have more applications for cannabis stores in the future.
  • I saw someone smoking cannabis in a public park — is that allowed?
    • No. Recreational cannabis use is not allowed in any City of Burlington parks or facility. To file a complaint about consumption in a public place, contact Halton Region Health at 311 or 905-825-6000.


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