Article by Keegan Kozolanka, Guelph Today
The debate over retail cannabis has reopened in Erin as a delegation to council has asked them to see the benefits of allowing them to set up shop in the village.
No cannabis shop has opened in Wellington County but two are in the application process with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario: The Green Cloud Cannabis in Arthur and Taste Buds Cannabis in Rockwood.
The Town of Erin is one of three municipalities in Wellington County that previously opted-out of hosting retail cannabis stores. Centre Wellington and Mapleton also chose not to allow storefronts.
Delegates from Cannabis Cannabis, a new Cannabis retail company, spoke at an Erin council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
Jordan Eady, CEO of Cannabis Cannabis, told council the company is expected to open their first location in Stratford and are interested in Erin as another possible site.
In a phone call after the delegation, Eady said he has been visiting the town for years because his fiance is from the area and her parents are still local.
“Erin’s a second home for me and I’ve always been in love with the town and with the people of Erin,” Eady said.
“It’s a growing loving community and we just want to be able to open up a store that’s safe, regulated and can educate the people of Erin on purchasing cannabis.”
Although there’s a personal connection to Erin, Eady said he sees focusing on smaller towns like Stratford and Erin as a wise business move.
“That’s kind of our main focus is really providing a beautiful, approachable space for these smaller towns and try to stay clear of the saturation in larger cities,” Eady said.
At the meeting, the company’s chief strategy officer Ryan Caruso explained some towns that opted-out were concerned about an abundance of stores setting up shop.
However, Caruso said this hasn’t been the case in similar sized municipalities.
“You can look at places like Kincardine, very similar population size to Erin … all these other towns that have opted-in only have one store,” Caruso said to council. “You don’t really see that clustering.”
Caruso also said a cannabis storefront can put a dent in the black market, generate tax revenue and create living wage employment for the town.
Eady said the company is focused on working with the community so the store suits the character and needs like what they did in Stratford working with the heritage department.
This applies for both the inside and the outside of the store. Eady said he’s been inside some cannabis stores where he has felt uncomfortable.
This is why he said he wants to focus on an inviting atmosphere that suits a small town.
“It just gives the opportunity for people who are a little bit older… and they may never have walked into a cannabis store,” Eady said. “We’re just kind of saying ‘hey listen this is just like any other store.’ We’re just giving it a really beautiful, clean aesthetic so anyone that’s able and age appropriate to go in.
Erin council was receptive to the delegation and councillor Michael Robins commended them on the feel they were going for with the stores.
“It is contrary to the mental image I have of cannabis-type stores,” Robins said to the delegation. “In terms of what you’re trying to appeal to is something I think is going the right way in terms of safety and upscale look and feel.”
Mayor Allan Alls asked if there was enough of a market to support this store in Erin.
“I know we’re going to grow but we’re not a large population,” Alls said, also asking if they had a more specific location in mind.
Eady replied that he was confident the business would be successful. As for location, Eady said they spotted a few vacancies but would be interested in being along the main strip of Erin, preferably in a heritage building.