Article by Graeme McNaughton, Guelph Mercury
An Ontario commissioner has ordered the provincial agency tasked with wholesale cannabis sales to disclose additional documents related to a planned, but ultimately abandoned, provincially-run cannabis retail store in Guelph.
In the order dated March 19, adjudicator Valerie Jepson, with the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario, ordered the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) to release documents regarding how much the Crown agency paid in rent, as well as terms of the lease, for a planned retail store on Stone Road West.
The order stems from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request first made by the Guelph Mercury Tribune in 2018, looking into the store at 314 Stone Rd. W.
In 2019, the Mercury Tribune reported that the OCRC and the LCBO, which negotiated on the prior’s behalf, agreed to approximately $1.2 million in contracts, taxes included, for the store, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
That information was disclosed following an appeal to the IPC after the OCRC refused to release any documents. At that time, the OCRC was declining to release any information regarding how much was being paid in rent on the property, the tenant’s share of operating costs and the terms for an early termination of the lease.
The OCRC and LCBO argued this information should not be disclosed on a number of grounds, such as the financial information being provided in confidence, and disclosure that could harm the financial interests of an institution or the province.
In her order, Jepson determined that “the OCRC has not established that disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice its own economic interests or its competitive advantage, or to be injurious to the financial interests of the government of Ontario or the ability of the government to manage the Ontario economy.”