With the deadline looming for Ontario municipalities to decide whether to opt in or out of allowing cannabis retail stores within their boundaries, many communities remain undecided.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22, 2019 to opt out of having private cannabis storefronts operate within their boundaries. If the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has not received written notification from a municipality by the Jan. 22 deadline, private cannabis retail stores will be allowed within their jurisdiction by default.
According to the AGCO, if a municipality chooses to opt out, it is able to opt back in at any time, however once a municipality opts in it will no longer able to opt out.
If a municipality chooses to opt in, it will have little say as to where cannabis retail stores will be located within the community. That decision is left up to the AGCO, which will be responsible for approving or denying site applications for retail cannabis stores.
However, regulations from the province say retail cannabis stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools and must bar anyone under the age of 19 from entering.
The provincial regulations will allow the retail stores to be operate daily between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
In an interview with Global News on Thursday, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said retail cannabis stores in Ontario will open in phases.
Only 25 retail stores are expected to open in the province beginning April 1, 2019. Licences for those 25 stores will be handed out using a lottery system.
Here is a list of municipalities that have formally opted in or out of allowing retail cannabis stores in their communities, according to the AGCO.
Municipalities that have opted in
- Township of Armour
- Township of Dawn-Euphemia
- Township of East Ferris
- Municipality of Highlands East
- Township of Johnson
- Township of Nairn and Hyman
- Township of the North Shore
- Township of Plummer Additional
- Township of Prince
- Township of Spanish
- Township of Tarbutt
- City of Elliot Lake
- City of Greater Sudbury
- Town of Latchford
- Township of South Stormont
- Municipality of Trent Lakes
- Township of Tudor and Cashel
- Municipality of Bluewater
- Municipality of Chatham-Kent
- City of Clarence-Rockland
- Township of Ear Falls
- City of Guelph
- Town of Huntsville
- Town of Iroquois
- Municipality of Leamington
- Town of Marathon
- Township of North Frontenac
- City of Ottawa
- City of Owen Sound
- City of Sarnia
- Town of Smiths Falls
- Municipality of Trent Hills
- Township of Zorra
During a meeting on Dec. 13, Toronto city council voted 20-to-4 in favour of allowing cannabis retail stores to operate within the city under a provincial licensing regime.
At a meeting on Dec. 18, councillors in London voted in favour of allowing retail stores within city boundaries.
As of Thursday morning, the AGCO website did not reflect that Toronto or London had opted in.
Municipalities that have opted out
- Town of Erin
- Township of Frontenac Islands
- Town of Ingersoll
- Township of King
- Township of Lake of the Woods
- City of Markham
- City of Mississauga
- Township of Papineau-Cameron
- Township of Centre Wellington
- Township of Dorion
- Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula
- Township of Southgate
- Town of Tecumseh
- Township of West Lincoln
WATCH: Toronto council debates cannabis retail stores and transit
Many municipalities still undecided
With a little over a month to go until the deadline, many municipalities are still mulling over the decision.
In Hamilton, the question of whether to allow retail cannabis stores within city boundaries has been deferred until the new year. Council will decide on Jan. 14.
The Town of Newmarket has asked for the public’s input. Town council is expected to make its decision on whether or not to allow the retail stores within the community on Jan. 7.
Town councillors in Innisfil were provided a report regarding cannabis stores on Wednesday. The town says the results of a community consultation on the matter will also be provided to council on Jan. 9 before members are expected to decide whether to opt in or out.
Barrie’s city council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its first meeting back in the new year on Jan. 7.
The City of Windsor has launched an online survey asking residents for their take on whether cannabis retail stores should be allowed in the city. Respondents have until Jan. 4 to share their opinions.
Similarly, residents in Kingston had until Wednesday to fill out an online survey to voice their opinions on whether the municipality should allow retail stores. The findings of that survey will be provided to council in early January.
In Waterloo, the issue of allowing retail cannabis stores within the city will go before council on Jan. 14.
In Kitchener, the issue will go before council in January. The date has not yet been set.