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Fire and Flower hopes to be Guelph’s first retail cannabis store

Ontario government scrapping cannabis retail stores cap
WATCH (Dec. 13, 2019): Ontario currently has 24 legal cannabis stores in operation, and the province says it will roll out approximately 20 per month starting in April.

There are at least nine proposed locations in Guelph, Ont., for a retail cannabis store, but Alberta-based Fire and Flower Cannabis Co. hopes to be the first to open its doors.

Plans were in place to begin operating at its shop across from Stone Road Mall in April, but the business is now aiming for mid-June after construction was halted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: You’ll be able to buy weed from Ontario producers — but there’s a strange catch

Fire and Flower chief financial officer Nadia Vattovaz says construction restarted about two weeks ago.

“For us, it’s going to be a relatively quick turnaround given that we are almost completed anyway,” she said in a phone interview.

The location at 314 Stone Rd. W. was pegged to be a government-run cannabis distributor under the Kathleen Wynne government until Premier Doug Ford opted for a private model.

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It is currently awaiting final approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) but it shouldn’t be an issue given that Fire and Flower operates 48 retail cannabis stores, including locations in Kingston and Ottawa.

“We have built cannabis stores and we’re pretty good at doing that,” Vattovaz said.

But she admitted that trying to open a store amid the coronavirus pandemic is a completely different issue.

“We need to rely on the AGCO to be able to come and do the inspection; whether they do it visually on site or virtually remains to be seen, but that’s the next step for us,” Vattovaz explained.

READ MORE: As Ontario moves to open up cannabis retail, here’s what we’ll see next

The other proposed locations in Guelph are at various stages of the application process with the AGCO.

Spiritleaf in the Metro plaza at Edinburgh and Stone roads has passed the public notice period and also hopes to open in June but could not provide a specific date.

Cannabis Supply Co. at Dawson Road and Speedvale Avenue, which was a medical cannabis dispensary, is transitioning into a recreational dispensary and passed the public notice phase on May 9.

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Q-Bud in the former Sidonio’s menswear shop location in downtown Guelph has also passed the public notice phase.

An AGCO spokesperson said the eligibility and due diligence processes for these locations are ongoing but could not provide a date on when the process would conclude.

Vattovaz said she expects Fire and Flower to be first to the finish line and added that the location is perfect.

“It is a large location, and I’m happy about that, especially during the pandemic because it’s going to allow for more adequate social distancing to help new customers feel comfortable with shopping in store,” she said. “We’ll be able to do curbside pickup as well from that location because there is a lot of parking in the area.”

The location also can’t be missed for anyone driving on Stone Road after they propped up a large orange sign outside the store.

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Other proposed cannabis store locations include Meta Cannabis in the Walmart plaza on Woodlawn Road and two locations under the Bud’s Cannabis name — one next to the Dollarama on Stone Road and one south of Old Quebec Street Mall in downtown Guelph.

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There are also two locations being planned by a company called The Cannabist Shop, including one across from The Beer Store on Woolwich Street, which is currently home to a flower shop. Guelph’s committee of adjustment is expected to vote on an application to open a cannabis store at that location on June 11.

READ MORE: Ontario government scrapping cannabis retail stores cap, removing pre-qualification rules

There are also plans for The Cannabist Shop to open a shop inside the Guelph Concert Theatre.

Global News has made attempts to contact The Cannabist Shop and the Guelph Concert Theatre to get further details but has not heard back.