Article by Paul Morden, Fort McMurray Today
Brian McAllister says he has what he thinks is the ideal spot in Sarnia for a cannabis shop – it’s just going to take some time before it’s allowed to open.
McAllister’s application to open a cannabis retail store is one of 11 in Sarnia currently before Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO.)
He said the commission has given him an opening date in July 2021 for his Bogart’s Cannabis Shop at 1202 Lakeshore Rd.
“I think we have the best location, by far,” McAllister said.
The space is a former restaurant in a commercial plaza next to the busy intersection of Lakeshore and Murphy roads.
“We would love it to be a lot sooner than that, but we’re going to wait our turn and be ready to go,” McAllister said. “You can’t control that stuff.”
He said he applied for a provincial licence in April.
“It is what it is,” McAllister said. “You’re dealing with COVID (and) you’re dealing with government at the same time.”
None of the 11 applications for cannabis stores in Sarnia have been approved and are yet to open.
There are currently 225 cannabis stores open in Ontario, according to the commission.
“Before issuing a licence to any operator, the AGCO undertakes a comprehensive assessment of the applicant and all interested parties, including police and background checks,” commission spokesperson Raymond Kahnert said in an email.
“The AGCO will only license applicants who meet all legal and regulatory requirements.”
In September, the provincial government ordered the commission to double its pace of cannabis store authorizations from 20 to 40 per month.
“The AGCO application process is thorough and efficient while protecting the integrity of Ontario’s retail cannabis operations,” Kahnert said.
He added work on applications has continued throughout the pandemic.
To date, approximately 1,200 applications have been submitted across the province, the commission said.
“I’m 100 per cent an independent owner,” McAllister said. “There’s no corporation here – just me.”
McAllister said he expects his store to set itself apart by its location in the city’s north end, customer service and knowledgeable staff.
“Cannabis is expensive,” he said. “We want to make sure people get the right stuff the first time.”
McAllister said he expects to initially employ 10 to 12 people.
He grew up Port Lambton and has owned a Pita Pit restaurant in Sarnia with his wife for 17 years.
Other applications for stores in Sarnia the commission’s website lists as being in progress:
The Cannabisery, 1173 Michener Rd.
Natures Buds, 1362 Lambton Mall Rd.
Sessions Cannabis Sarnia, 600 Murphy Rd.
The We Store, 889 Exmouth St.
Your Highness, 415 Exmouth St.
Bluewater Joint, 940 Murphy Rd.
Yield Cannabis Co., 1000 Finch Dr.
True North Cannabis Company, 129 Mitton St. S.
Chill Cannabis, 1407 London Rd.
The We Store, 450 Trudeau Dr.