Article by Brian Cross, Windsor Star
Responding to a flood of critical emails after administration opposed the proposed downtown location of Windor’s first cannabis store, councillors have voted to decide future applications themselves.
The vote was unanimous to reverse a Jan. 21 decision where council approved “opting in” to hosting retail cannabis stores but also delegating authority for city planner Thom Hunt to gather input from various departments and come up with a position on individual applications. That was done because there’s only a 15-day window for comments to be made to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario on an application and it was feared council couldn’t render an opinion on time.
But the manner appeared to backfire recently when Hunt opposed an application for Windsor’s first store at 545 Ouellette Ave. The opposition ignited a storm of criticism from downtown boosters who contend a cannabis store would bring foot traffic to the core.
Coun. Rino Bortolin, who represents the downtown area, said administration “went against the desires and wishes and hopes of council,” when Hunt opposed the location.
On Monday, Mayor Drew Dilkens proposed that council reconsider the delegation of authority and take that role on themselves. He promised to call a special meeting of council to deal with the issue if needed to fit in the 15-day window. But the change enacted Monday has no impact on the application for 545 Ouellette, which Hunt opposed citing reports from Windsor Police and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, which both registered concerns.
I’m just trying to find a good go-forward strategy
While acknowledging the comment period is now over, Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie asked if council could write a letter and expressing support for the location.
Dilkens responded that if council wasn’t being broadcast with 100 people in the audience, he would tell McKenzie that such a letter “would make the city look bad.”
And he’s not sure it would have any effect on the AGCO’s decision on the location. AGCO is under no obligation to follow the city’s position, he noted. The mayor said what he’s proposing is a better way to deal with future cannabis store applications.
“I’m just trying to find a good go-forward strategy,” he said.
Bortolin, who was highly critical of administration opposing the location, said he was happy that the delegated authority had been removed.