Article by James Sebastian-Scott, Kitchener Today
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is currently reviewing six cannabis store applications in one stretch of Downtown Kitchener.
There are currently a total of five locations opened in our region. Three in Cambridge, one in Waterloo and one in Kitchener.
The stretch along King Street West in Kitchener has four pending applications while just around the corner near Queen and Charles two more appear on the website’s interactive map.
The AGCO says that just because the applications have been put forward doesn’t mean they will all be granted.
Kitchener Ward 10 Councillor Sarah Marsh says that there are some concerns with the volume of applications in the same area of downtown Kitchener.
“There are some concerns (…) having one shop in the downtown area does make sense but to have more than one and for that matter up to six, doesn’t seem to make any sense from the business perspective and the public perspective.”
But, according to Trang Trinh who is the CEO & Founding Director of Trec Brands, the general rule of thumb is one location can support 10,000 people in population.
“If you look at the current population of the City of Kitchener (…) that is good enough to support at least 30 cannabis stores,” says Trinh, “I think 36 stores sounds about right if you count inflation and more people coming to the area.”
In theory, that would mean that given the Region’s population, which is approximately 650,000 people – we could see up to 65 retail cannabis stores. That’s something which Trinh feels doesn’t over saturate the market despite cannabis being legal for only a few years.
“I think eventually there will be oversaturation,” says Trinh, “I do feel like we have a year or two before that happens though. There is also a significant university population as well.”
Marsh feels like the location that is open in Kitchener and the other location about to open in downtown Kitchener is enough for now.
“I think that’s plenty to start with,” says Marsh, “I think if we have more to open up then it should be spread out across the city and not saturated in one area.”
Trinh adds that the most important thing is making legal cannabis more accessible.
“I think opening up anywhere from 30-65 stores in Waterloo Region is hugely important given that the population is nearing 650,000 people.”
There are currently two additional locations in Cambridge and Waterloo who are currently in the ‘public notice’ stage which would bring the applicant one step closer to opening its doors.