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Ontario Liberals promise to end the clustering of cannabis stores

The province had 1,468 licensed stores open as of May 2, with another 445 active store authorization applications under review.
2020-01-07 Hobo2 SUP
The inside of the Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store in Ottawa. Supplied photo

Ontario’s Liberal Party is promising to crack down on the ballooning number of cannabis stores if elected, CityNews has learned.

The Liberals say they would require a minimum distance between pot shops. There are currently no provincial restrictions on cannabis store density, although Ontario does mandate a minimum distance of 150 metres between retail stores and schools. The Liberals say they would model their plan after that 150 metre distance.

“In recent years, Ontario’s downtowns and main streets have been flooded by new cannabis stores, crowding out other small businesses,” the party said in a statement to CityNews. “We’ll end the clustering of cannabis stores by requiring a minimum distance between them, using a similar model to the one currently applied between stores and schools.”

The number of cannabis retail stores has exploded to almost 2,000 in Ontario. The province had 1,468 licensed stores open as of May 2, with another 445 active store authorization applications under review. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s website, roughly 400 cannabis retailers are either open for business or have been authorized to open in the city of Toronto. There are also dozens of additional applications currently being processed.

“It’s not just the sheer number of stores, it’s also how they’re bunched together on many of our main streets, and many of our downtown areas,” said Del Duca during a campaign stop in Kitchener on Friday. “I was in a part of Toronto the other day and along one block I think I saw six cannabis stores almost side by each all the way through that block.”

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner says he wouldn’t implement province wide restrictions on distance between cannabis stores, but did say that he is “supportive of giving municipalities more planning power and tools to reduce and prevent the clustering of cannabis stores in certain neighbourhoods.”

“We have to ensure the vibrancy and vitality of our commercial neighbourhoods and ensure that other small businesses have the opportunity to be able to open stores,” said Schreiner.

CityNews reached out to both the Ontario PC and NDP parties for comment but had yet to receive a response.

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