Perth Park residents are again urging the province to reject a cannabis store proposed for an established neighbourhood near three elementary schools.
Andrea Winchester, a nurse and mother to four young children, recently sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking that he override the Alcohol and Gaming Commission’s decision and oppose the location of Cannabis Roll at 11 Hatton Dr. in a former retail plaza.
“The AGCO has ignored our pleas and has allowed a licensed to be issued,” stated Winchester in her letter.
A check on the commission’s website shows the application for the dispensary is “In Progress.”
But city officials have told Winchester that the facility is expected to be open next spring.
Winchester writes that allowing a cannabis dispensary will create “inherent safety risks” for the families and their children living in the community.
“Cannabis stores do have their place in this province, but that place is not within the safe borders of a residential community where our children play road hockey, ride their bikes, where they lay their heads down to sleep and in the place they call ‘home’,” she said.
Winchester joins another resident, Kerry Balonjan, who started a petition on Change.org in the spring that collected over 540 people to stop the cannabis store from opening.
Winchester has told Coun. Lloyd Ferguson that the neighbourhood can’t have an “influx of cars into our little residential area.
“A pot store doesn’t meet the needs of the residents of the neighbourhood,” said Winchester.
Both Hamilton public school board chair Alex Johnston and Hamilton Catholic school board chair Pat Daly have sent letters objecting to the pot shop location.
Hamilton council also has twice written to the province to block the pot shop from opening.
Ferguson recently said that despite the provincial government’s stated willingness to listen to residents’ concerns, it has repeatedly ignored their issues on this pot shop application.
“The neighbours are all concerned,” he said. “I can’t figure it out why they are blowing us off like this.”
Councillors recently agreed to another motion introduced by Ferguson to ask the provincial government to direct the commission to deny the pot shop from located on Hatton Drive.
Ferguson, who has been fighting the province since the spring over this issue, said a pot shop at 11 Hatton is “not the right location.”
Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge, who supported the motion, said she has three cannabis outlets in Waterdown, including one located near a children’s learning centre, and another that is two blocks away from an elementary school.
“There is no question in my mind they are all going to be supported,” said Partridge. “It’s the locations that the people are very upset about.”
Ancaster already has an active cannabis retail outlet at 1142 Wilson St. W. and there is an application for a retail outlet in the Ancaster Business Park at 1428 Sandhill Dr.
The city’s director of licensing, Ken Leendertse has said the Hatton Drive pot shop has “met all the criteria by the council because it is zoned commercial. “(But) it certainly doesn’t seem to fit this neighbourhood.”
Leendertse said the city has received about 74 applications for pot shops across the city. He said about 40 per cent of those applications do not meet the municipality’s criteria.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said while he supported allowing cannabis stores to set up shop in Hamilton, allowing the private sector to control the industry was the wrong direction to go by the province.