No decision on cannabis shops in Mississauga coming yet, mayor says

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Published April 12, 2023 at 10:16 am

(Photo: cottonbro/Pexels)

If Mississauga decides to reverse course and allow legal cannabis stores to sell their products across the city, it won’t happen today (April 12), Mayor Bonnie Crombie says.

The City of Mississauga’s reconsidering this week of its long-standing ban on cannabis shops has garnered much attention from both members of the public and the media.

It was thought Mississauga councillors might deal with a motion calling for the lifting of the ban at today’s meeting of general committee, but Crombie said at the outset of the session inside Council Chambers at City Hall that’s not the case.

“We will not be making that decision today,” the mayor told those in attendance, adding councillors will only discuss a report on the issue from senior City staff and then make a final decision at the April 19 meeting of council.

Several people, including a spokesperson for the Mississauga Residents’ Associations Network (MIRANET), a city-wide association of residents’ groups, lined up at today’s meeting to make deputations to councillors about the marijuana shop issue.

Mississauga is the largest municipality in Ontario to so far deny the operation of legal cannabis stores within its borders. 

As one of five GTA municipalities and 64 across Ontario to “opt out” since weed was legalized in 2018, the City of Mississauga has, to date, stood firm in its position.

The issue at hand has always been control over where the pot shops would be allowed to open and do business. A number of Mississauga councillors have wanted to be able to regulate the businesses to some degree.

However, the Ontario government has also stood firm, saying the shops are not to be controlled by municipalities. There are no signs it’s about to budge.

There are indications Mississauga might now change its stance and “opt in” to the legalized cannabis shops plan.

A motion from Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla calling on Mississauga “to lift its prohibition on cannabis retail stores” and allow the shops to operate in Canada’s seventh-largest city is on the April 12 general committee agenda.

Councillors will vote on the motion at next week’s council meeting.

Meanwhile, a report from senior City staff dated March 27 and to be discussed at Wednesday’s (April 12) meeting, notes that “clustering of stores” in neighbouring municipalities that allow retail cannabis sales “has not proven to be an issue to date.”

The concern over a potential clustering of stores, and associated problems, has been at the centre of Mississauga’s opposition.

The report from Shari Lichterman, Mississauga’s acting city manager, also points out that, according to the Ontario Cannabis Store, “Mississauga residents continue to be disproportionately served by the illegal cannabis market, compared to municipalities that have opted in.”

It also includes input from Peel Regional Police, outlining their concern over one particular illegal pot shop that continues to operate in Mississauga.

The report also revealed that:

  • there are 1,714 retail cannabis stores across Ontario, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is approving as many as 23 new locations each week
  • to date, 64 municipalities in Ontario remain “opted out”
  • the Ontario retail cannabis market is growing annually, with $184 million in revenue in 2021/22
  • the retail cannabis market employs some 48,000 people across the province and contributes $13.3 billion to Ontario’s gross domestic product

The majority of Mississauga councillors have long expressed support for the idea of legal cannabis shops operating in the city, but only if regulated. 

City council officially nixed plans to allow cannabis shops on two occasions in 2021, citing a lack of municipal control. 

Crombie, who’s in favour of allowing the pot shops, said earlier that concerns councillors have are with the clustering of stores in neighbourhoods and the proximity of the shops to playgrounds, schools, counselling facilities, child care and community centres as well as other sites that may be considered sensitive.  

Mississauga, Oakville, Markham, Whitby and Vaughan are the only municipalities in the GTA to so far deny the operation of legal cannabis stores.  

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