Close to a year after opting out, Mississauga will reconsider allowing retail cannabis stores in the city.
The city will look again at cannabis storefronts in the new year, in part, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said, because of the persistence of the illegal market in Mississauga. She said she was “very startled” by the amount of unauthorized cannabis businesses in the city.
Crombie said the full costs of allowing cannabis stores, from enforcement to public health and education, is to be determined.
“Certainly, there would be a much higher bylaw cost than we had anticipated given the proliferation of the illegal outlets to purchase,” she said.
As of Sunday, websites listing dispensaries in Mississauga had between four and 10 recreational cannabis retail and delivery businesses in the city’s boundaries.
Since opting out, Mississauga has largely foregone payments from Ontario’s Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund, which aims to help municipalities deal with the costs of legalization.
Brampton opted in to retail cannabis and, since February, that city has received $381,365 from the fund. Caledon and Mississauga have each received $5,000 over the same period.
Concerns over proliferation of stores and their locations near sensitive areas such as daycares, led the city to vote not to allow retail cannabis shops Dec. 12, 2018. Councillors Sue McFadden and Karen Ras voted in favour of allowing the stores.
After voting to against retail cannabis, the mayor sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford outlining the city’s concerns hoping for more power to determine store locations.
Crombie said the Ford government is not likely to change course, but that council “did the right thing” in holding out.
“This is a council that does their homework,” she said. “We’re very thoughtful and we had some legitimate concerns with respect to the proliferation of these stores and the locations.”
Mississauga was one of 76 municipalities in Ontario that opted out of retail cannabis before the Jan. 22, 2019, deadline.
Ras, who raised the issue of another “adult conversation” about retail cannabis stores in Mississauga at an Oct. 2 council meeting, said in an email that she hopes council will revisit the issue early in 2020, after the city’s budget process wraps up.