Two Winnipeg city councillors are calling for changes to the windows in local pot stores.
A motion on the issue by councillors Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) was referred to the city’s Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development earlier this week.
Cannabis shops are currently required — due to provincial regulations — to have opaque windows that make them impossible to see into from the street, but Eadie told Global News the policy has made the stores into eyesores that are negatively affecting the aesthetic value of Winnipeg’s commercial areas.
“What we’re looking it is, are we able to — through a bylaw or whatever — recommend that it can’t just be a blank opaque window, that it can have some sort of artwork on it?” said Eadie.
“Our problem is if it’s just a flat colour, it’s almost like, oh, there’s a bunch of vacant shops around.”
He said he’s heard from residents in his ward that numerous pot shops with blank windows can give the appearance of looking like “a part of town where you show up to buy your drugs”, and gives a negative impression to local families.
The motion also calls for the Winnipeg Public Service to look into the geographic distribution of cannabis stores in the city and to compare the strategies other municipalities have taken around signage and preventing clusters of pot shops in specific areas.
In a statement, Delta 9 Cannabis co-founder and CEO John Arbuthnot told Global News the blank windows are also a concern when it comes to employee safety.
“The opaque window rule makes it easier for someone to rob the store without being seen from the street. (It) has already been scrapped in Alberta after robberies took place inside stores and no one could see what was happening from the street to call police.
“This obviously represents a safety risk.”
Arbuthnot said he’s not convinced the opaque window rule is necessary to keep minors from seeing cannabis products, as they’re all stocked behind the counter and in sealed packages already.