Proposed Cannabis Shop on City Land at Ashbridge’s Bay Boardwalk Sparks Opposition

Article by David Rider, Toronto Star

GTA Proposed pot shop on city land at Ashbridge’s Bay boardwalk sparks opposition David Rider By David RiderCity Hall Bureau Chief After years of controversy and closed restaurants at Ashbridge’s Bay, Tuggs Inc. wants to put a cannabis shop on prime beachfront land leased from the city of Toronto.

After years of controversy and closed restaurants at Ashbridge’s Bay, Tuggs Inc. wants to put a cannabis shop on prime beachfront land leased from the city of Toronto.

The city has warned Tuggs owner George Foulidis that his planned sublease of a storefront to Miss Jones Cannabis violates the terms of his lease with the city.

But it will be the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that decides whether to grant the licence, potentially setting up a legal fight between the city and Tuggs after years of wrangling over the firm’s operations.

Brad Bradford, the Beaches-East York councillor, said he started hearing from concerned residents after the AGCO cannabis store application notice was taped in a side window of Tugg’s former Johnny Catch restaurant on Dec. 29.

It invited public comment to AGCO during a period ending Monday.

Bradford alerted city staff who told the Star in an email that the proposal would violate Tuggs’s lease for the plaza at 1681 Lake Shore Blvd. E., which backs onto the busy boardwalk and eastern beaches.

“A cannabis retail outlet is not a permitted use of the Premises, Parkland and Licensed Area under the Lease/License Agreement between the City and the Tenant,” for food service business, sponsorship programs and activities, city staff wrote.

“We have advised the tenant in writing and have requested that they withdraw their application from the AGCO… There is no provision in the Lease/Licence that permits the tenant to sub-lease.”

Representatives from Tuggs and Miss Jones Cannabis did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In 2007 city council voted — against city staff advice — to give Tuggs a 20-year sole-sourced lease extension to ensure the site has a “mom and pop” tenant and to keep out chain eateries.

But city staff couldn’t reach terms with Tuggs. Citing legal advice, city council in 2010 approved a lease until 2028 that included annual rent of $200,000 and Tuggs spending $2 million on renovations of the building.

The years since have included resident complaints over Tuggs’s exclusive rights to sell food and novelties at four nearby parks, a series of eateries, and a failed attempt by the city to buy out the lease.

On a recent day, only Foulidis’s Tim Hortons franchise was operating at the site, with two shuttered restaurants and a Booster Juice closed for the season.

Bradford said the prime family beachside spot is no place for a pot shop.

“This has been a contentious site for many years,” said Bradford, who has represented Ward 19 since 2018.

“There have been a lot of challenges with the lease agreement … We have seen the leaseholder make numerous challenges and you’ve seen the community express a great deal of concern around this lease.

“It’s important we are bringing businesses to the area that add to the vibrancy of that particular part of The Beach as we get back to regular life.”

Asked for comment, Mayor John Tory said he supports local residents who have voiced opposition to the proposal.

“This is not a permitted use for this property and once again illustrates a significant disconnect between the applicant and what the city would like to achieve at this location,” Tory said.

“City staff have sent a letter making it abundantly clear that if the tenant fails to withdraw this application and proceeds, the city will pursue any and all further remedies in accordance with the lease and the law.”

Asked for comment, the AGCO outlined its application and public notice proposal for firms that want to open cannabis stores, noting the city has lodged its objections to the Ashbridge’s Bay proposal.

But the AGCO registrar considers objections related to “protecting public health safety; protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis; and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.”

Coun. Paula Fletcher, in neighbouring Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth, said Premier Doug Ford’s government has been too cavalier in granting pot shop applications.

“On one stretch of Queen Street East, between Broadview Avenue and Boulton Avenue, there are applications for seven cannabis shops in a row and this has everyone flummoxed,” Fletcher said.

Read the full article here.

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