3 new cannabis stores coming to Niagara Region

Finished buds sit in a tray at the Cann Trust Holdings Inc. cannabis production facility in Fenwick Ont.							Galit Rodan  Bloomberg

Finished buds sit in a tray at the Cann Trust Holdings Inc. cannabis production facility in Fenwick Ont. Galit Rodan Bloomberg

Forty-two applicants have been selected in a second lottery for cannabis retail licenses by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The majority of Toronto winners are located within the downtown core.

Another proposed store location is identified as 625 Trunk Road and coincides with three other applicants including an Ontario Inc. numbered company, Ofir Radovitsky and Norman Arias-Blanco.

Noah Soberano, whose planned outlet at 1135 Richmond St. would be steps from Western University's main gates and the infamous Broughdale neighbourhood.

One of the winners is Huge Shops, a retail company that previously established a partnership with Chairman's Brands, parent company of QSR chain Coffee Time, to acquire ten of its retail locations and have them converted into recreational cannabis stores.

London seems to have beaten the lottery odds, one industry observer said. "Having said that, it's not necessarily a bad business strategy to secure a location that already has a customer base and is known for being a dispensary", she said.

Toronto was allotted another 13 stores, the most of any region. By contrast, Alberta has issued close to 200 permits to open stores in the province, with at least 50 of those stores up and running.

Moe Mahfouz runs the Sleep Country mattress store and is hopeful more customers in the area will shop at his store as a result of the new tenants next door.

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He expects areas that have been less successful in the draws and have few stores, like Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa, will eventually fill out.

Municipalities were allowed to opt-out of allowing cannabis retail stores earlier this year.

Nearly 5,000 eligible expressions of interest were included in the lottery draw, which was overseen by a third-party fairness monitor.

While the rules of lottery state the applicant must operate their cannabis retail store at the same address as provided on their application, there is a provision that the applicant can submit a request to the AGCO registrar to operate a cannabis retail store at a different address in the same region.

Applicants have until August 28, 2019 to do so, at which point the AGCO will undertake its full eligibility and licensing review.

Unlike the 42 other applicants, proposals for stores on reserves were made on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"The AGCO will only licence applicants and authorize stores that meet all legal and regulatory requirements", the news release reads.

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