Article by Michelle Ruby, Brantford Expositor
The city has filed objections to two of four applications that have been made for proposed cannabis retail stores in Brantford.
There are currently no legal pot stores operating in the city.
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, two applications are “undergoing public notice,” which means the public can make objections and submissions. Those applications are for Tokyo Smoke, with a proposed location in Brantford Commons at 290 King George Rd., Unit K5; and for Harvest Cannabis Co. at 59 Dalhousie St.
The city is objecting to the Tokyo Smoke and Harvest Cannabis proposals because it says they do not comply with the municipality’s cannabis retail policy.
The city says the proposed Tokyo Smoke store would be within the 150-metre separation distance for “sensitive uses,” specifically seniors retirement residences at 436 Powerline Rd. and at 135-137 Francis St. The deadline for submissions on the application is May 1.
And the city says the proposed Harvest Cannabis store would be within the 150-metre separation distance from downtown Harmony Square, also considered a sensitive use. The square is an “active/programmed park space, as well as the YMCA,” the city says. The deadline for submissions on that application is April 30.
Applications also have been submitted for Miss Jones, at 185 King George Rd., Suite B5; and for Seven Point at 10 Stanley St. The city has no objection to either of those proposed operations.
There is a 15-day public notice period for proposed cannabis stores, a requirement for an applicant to receive a retail store authorization. During that time, a municipality or its residents can write a submission to the commission if it’s felt the proposed store isn’t in the public interest as set out in the regulations under the Cannabis Licence Act. That includes protecting public health and safety; protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis; and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.
Mayor Kevin Davis said it remains to be seen how the commission will deal with the city’s concerns because the agency “retains ultimate authority to approve or reject applications, which goes to core of the concerns I and many other residents had and continue to have concerning the provincial regulatory scheme.
“This is not a veto power, only an opportunity to comment, which the AGCO may or may not consider when deciding to approve an application.”
Earlier this year, the city created a policy meant to give it some control over where cannabis stores can be located.
Under the policy, the city only will object to an application if the proposed location isn’t in an area zoned retail; or the location is within 150 metres of a “sensitive use,” including the Bell Homestead on Tutela Heights Road, Boys and Girls Club on Edge Street, community centres, day nurseries, EarlyON centres, libraries, nursing homes and retirement homes, programmed park facilities, public and private schools and the downtown YMCA.
In addition, the policy recommends retail cannabis stores should have a minimum separation distance of 150 metres from one another to prevent clustering.
Davis said he’s unsure of the timeline for approval of new retail cannabis stores by the AGCO but, because the stores aren’t considered by the province to be essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, “even if the application is approved a retail outlet can’t open until the provincial restrictions on non-essential businesses is either lifted or amended.”
According to its website, Tokyo Smoke has 18 stores, of which 12 are in Ontario, including in Cambridge and Hamilton. There are six stores in Manitoba.