Article by Brian Cross, Windsor Star
The slow introduction of local pot shops is finally igniting, with four stores in the application pipeline.
The most advanced, J. Supply Co., is finishing renovations to a former bank at 545 Ouellette Ave. to make its interior resemble a swanky jewelry store, albeit with a separate section at the entrance where ID can be checked to guard against underage purchases.
“Our plan is to be open mid to late next week,” said Victor Anastasiadis, who is assisting his brother, store owner Kirk Anastasiadis. Victor Anastasiadis added that the opening might be delayed if final inspections are held up due to coronavirus concerns.
Another company, Sessions Windsor, has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Gaming Commission of Ontario to open stores in Lakeshore on Amy Croft Drive and in South Windsor, in a new plaza on Division Road just south of Devonshire Mall.
And on Tuesday, city council will render its opinion on the location being proposed for Shinybud Cannabis Co., which wants to open its first Windsor store across from Tecumseh Mall and adjacent to a McDonald’s.
We just have to make sure it’s in the right location
“I heard some jokes this weekend about how well McDonald’s will do as people exit the cannabis store,” said Coun. Gary Kaschak, whose Ward 8 includes the Shinybud location at 7833 Tecumseh Rd. E.
He said he’s visited the site and had a good look, and in his opinion it “checks most of the boxes, all of our concerns. It’s big enough, has sufficient parking, not close to any schools or addiction treatment centres.”
Kaschak said by legalizing cannabis use, the federal government has removed any expectation that council should make a moral judgment on a cannabis store.
“We just have to make sure it’s in the right location. And from my standpoint it is.”
Cannabis stores have been slow to come to Windsor. None of the first 25 Ontario-wide businesses selected a year ago by lottery wanted to locate here. Kirk Anastasiadis, a London resident, was one of the 42 businesses selected in the second round and he announced last summer he wanted to open his store in downtown Windsor.
City of Windsor administration opposed that location, in a move that drew criticism and caused council to change the process so it would be councillors — not administrators — who would oppose or support future applications. With the J. Supply Co. application moving forward, it appears the City of Windsor opposition didn’t have much influence on the AGCO.
The administrative report on the Shinybud location makes no recommendation to council.
An included assessment by the Windsor Police Service points to possible problems with loitering and traffic congestion in an already congested area. But it concludes that any negative consequences from the store can be minimized with “proper diligence.”
A report from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit points out that one of the few restrictions imposed by the Ontario government is these stores shouldn’t be located within 150 metres from a school. The Tecumseh Road location has no school nearby, but it does have stores selling cigarettes and beer 150 metres away, as well as an LCBO within 250 metres, which the health unit has concerns about.
The report also notes that the location is close to a residential area, presumably the Meadowbrook neighbourhood directly to the south, “of high material deprivation.”