Retail pot shop planned at Wonderland and Oxford
Adrienne South, CTV London
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 7:28PM EST
A retail cannabis store is expected to open in London in April near the intersection of Wonderland Road and Oxford Street West.
Christopher Comrie is one of seven regional retail cannabis lottery winners, and has submitted a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for a property located at 666 Wonderland Road -- the former home of McGinnis Landing and the Oar House.
Comrie is one of 25 license winners in the province that are expected to open their doors on April 1.
Not much is known about Comrie, and Pete Young, who is a co-founder of Indiva and owner of The Organic Traveller head shop on Richmond says it’s not a name he’s heard in the cannabis or retail industry.
“I think it’s great news because I think there was some concern that London might not even get one,” Young says.
”There [were] no guarantees because of the way the lottery was set up and then we started hearing four were going to be opening in the Hamilton or greater area and we heard of one in the Niagara area so that only left two stores. So I’m kind of happy to hear that London is getting at least one.”
Young tells CTV News he put in his own application for the lottery but addds he’s critical of the province’s decision to go with the lottery system because it allowed anyone with $75 to be able to apply for a license.
“When I looked at the list of the 25 people awarded, I didn’t recognize any of them,” Young says.
He says those who won who don’t have experience in the industry may have difficulty opening their doors by the April 1 deadline.
“I put in an application myself under my retail store ‘The Organic Traveler.’ I would have had no problem because I’m already an established retail store on Richmond Street. For someone to come in and start from scratch it is going to be quite…I think it is doable. I think they will probably have to open under construction of some sort,” Young says.
Young says he thinks it would have made more sense for the provincial government to have gone a different way and looked at the resumes of some of the people applying.
“I think [the province is] kind of setting up some of these people maybe to fail,” he says.
Young says those who don’t open by April 1 will be fined $12,500 and there’s an even larger fine for retailers who don’t open their doors by the end of April. Young is also expressing concern over the country’s cannabis supply.
“Canada doesn’t have the inventory to open up new stores. A perfect example is if you look at Alberta where the stores are running dry and closing if not permanently then two, three, four days a week…So I think everyone is kind of racing to the bottom as it is right now.”
He says his company, Indiva, just announced that they have signed a contract with the Ontario Cannabis Store to start supplying some of the London-grown cannabis to the recreational market.
London’s Ward 8 Councillor Steve Lehman tells CTV News the city found out about the store on Monday, and he found out on Tuesday the store was going to be located in his riding.
He says he hasn’t received any calls or emails from his constituents yet with concerns, but says people have 14 days to voice their concerns about the location.
“From my understanding in southwestern Ontario only seven licenses have been granted so far. Ours is the only one from here to Windsor. There’s one and it’s right here in London and in ward 8.”
Lehman says the store is planned for one of the major commercial hubs of the City of London. The plaza is located near apartments, bus stops, restaurants and grocery stores, and is also right across the street from an LCBO.
He says he hopes the roll-out across the province will be similar to when grocery stores started selling beer and wine in terms of acceptance from residents.
He adds that he never would have imagined ten years ago that people would able to get groceries, buy alcohol at grocery stores and then walk across the street to legally buy cannabis with their credit cards, but this is the new reality.
Lehman says he expects the plaza will become an even busier place once it opens.
The deadline for feedback is Feb. 26 and he says people should call and/or email him if they do want to share their thoughts.
“I want to remind folks marijuana is legal in Canada and I think what the Ontario government is looking for is not your opinion of whether it should be sold or not, but I think what they’re looking for is if this location will meet the guidelines set out by the province of Ontario,” Lehman says.
He says zoning will still go to the city, but says the province’s only stipulation for stores is that they are not within 150 metres of schools.