Article by Greg Colgan, Paris Star
The first application for a pot shop in rural Oxford County has been made for a potential Thamesford location.
The 116 Dundas St. store finished the 15-day public comment process on Oct. 31 and is now being reviewed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates cannabis in the province, before final approval to set up shop.
Raymond Kahnert, the senior adviser of communications for the AGCO, said there’s no timeline for approvals but licences only go to people who “meet all legal and regulatory requirements.”
The application – made by 2769120 Ontario Ltd. – didn’t list a company or owner’s name. Kahnert said the AGCO can’t release the company or owner’s name due to privacy concerns but confirmed the application was received Sept. 18.
As long as the property isn’t within 150 metres of a school –the province’s mandated buffer zone – and is zoned to allow commercial retail, it’s largely out of the municipal government’s hands and in those of the province.
After Zorra Township opted in to allowing cannabis retail before legalization in October 2018, council issued a policy statement that also included a 70-metre exclusion zone from other lands such as public parks, playgrounds, libraries, daycares, churches and LCBO locations.
“We took a pretty aggressive stance at the time that we would permit retail but, in addition to the 150 metres around school properties, we also wanted 70 metres around areas like libraries and parks,” Zorra Mayor Marcus Ryan said. “It was aggressive, but our philosophy was to be as restrictive as possible since we can always ease up and it’s normally more difficult to become restrictive over time.”
From a municipal level, everything is up to the province on whether to approve or deny an application, Ryan said. Since the property is already zoned for central commercial – which allows retail – there’s no need for zone change approval from council.
“If someone puts an application for a restaurant, we don’t review if it’s going to be pizza or burgers. It’s a restaurant that will prepare and sell food. If it’s going to be retail, you’re going to sell a product. We don’t distinguish between them because we don’t have the power or the authority as a municipality to do that. … If it’s zoned commercial, it’s allowed.”