An applicant behind a proposed retail pot shop in Barrhaven in Ottawa’s southwest end has won the chance to apply for an operating licence in Ontario’s second cannabis-store lottery.
If approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the proposed shop at 4335 Strandherd Dr. would be the city’s fourth retail cannabis store — and its first in a suburban community.
The Ontario government announced earlier this summer that it would allow 50 more private pot stores across the province, with the businesses expected to open in October.
The AGCO, which regulates the sector, held the province’s second cannabis-store lottery on Tuesday and announced the results on Wednesday.
The proposed location for the newest pot store in the nation’s capital — the only Ottawa location to make the cut this time around — is in a plaza on the western edge of Barrhaven, near the Fallowfield Road-Highway 416 interchange. It would occupy three units between a restaurant and a mattress store, across from Value Village and Costco.
Jan Harder, the city councillor for the area, said she’s “comfortable” with that site, describing it as “a very appropriate place.”
“It is a prime location,” she said in a phone interview, pointing to the area’s “connectivity” to Kanata, Stittsville, Richmond and Kemptville.
“And if there’s a reason for me to not be comfortable with it, you’ll certainly hear from me then.”
Harder said she doesn’t anticipate many Barrhaven residents will oppose a retail pot store in the community and suspects recreational buyers in her ward will welcome the opportunity to shop closer to home, rather than order cannabis online.
She added the store could serve as “a good thermometer for opportunities in other parts of the city,” given the size of the municipality.
“I think that Barrhaven will give us good evidence of whether a boutique-type pot shop does fit into a suburban community,” she said.
Ottawa already has three retail pot stores in the downtown area that opened this spring — one in the ByWard Market, one in Centretown and one in Wellington West. They are Fire & Flower on York Street, Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store on Bank Street and Superette on Wellington Street West.
Ottawa city council voted to allow bricks-and-mortar stores selling legal recreational cannabis in the city in December.
A total of 42 applicants were selected in the second AGCO lottery. Those stores, like in the first lottery, will be distributed regionally, with seven allotted to the area designated as the East Region, which includes Ottawa and much of eastern Ontario.
Three applicants in Innisfil, one applicant in Barrie, one in Collingwood and one in Kawartha Lakes make up the other six East Region lottery winners.
Aquanta Group Inc. was placed on the wait list following the lottery for its proposed pot shop at 470 Charlemagne Blvd. in Orléans, a suburb in Ottawa’s east end.
Lottery winners have until Aug. 28 to apply for licence
The AGCO says the 42 winners have until Aug. 28 to apply for a licence to run a store at their proposed sites.
Unlike the first lottery, applicants in the latest draw had to show that they had secured retail space that could be used as a store if they were selected and that they had enough capital to open it.
The commission will review all applications submitted and says it “will only licence applicants and authorize stores that meet all legal and regulatory requirements.”
On its website, the AGCO says it received 4,864 “eligible expressions of interest” in its second cannabis-store lottery; 976 of those entries came from the East Region. The draw was overseen by a third-party fairness monitor, according to the commission.
The Ontario government initially permitted only 25 stores to open across the province on April 1 of this year. The latest lottery means the number of pot shops allowed in Ontario will rise to 75.
The remaining eight of the 50 new stores will be located on First Nations reserves and are being approved through a separate process.
— With files from the Canadian Press