Concerns over pot shops linger as opening day nears

City councillors whose wards will soon host Ottawa's first legal cannabis stores are taking steps to reassure residents.

Of the 25 pot shops set to open across the province on April 1, three are in Ottawa: Superette at 1306 Wellington St. W., Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store at 391 Bank St., and Fire & Flower at 129 York St, the former Smoque Shack restaurant in the ByWard Market.

Coun. Jeff Leiper said while some residents of his west end ward are excited about the arrival of Superette, others have objected.  

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"They're concerned about traffic, they're concerned about the availability of product to children, they're concerned about the store security," he said. 

Leiper plans to hold a meeting Saturday to discuss those concerns, but he believes any initial issues with traffic and parking will sort themselves out as more cannabis retailers open their doors.

He said the store's operator, Pure Alpha Holdings, plans to have an employee control any crowds that form in front of the shop and deter customers from parking illegally.

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Coun. Mathieu Fleury is expecting long lines of locals and visitors from Gatineau, where there are no legal cannabis retailers, when Fire & Flower opens.

"There's ongoing concerns relating to similar [issues] we'd have at an LCBO or at beer store. So, knowing the opening hours, having [a] security attendant, having a point of contact for neighbourhood businesses and community so that if there are issues, we know who to deal with," he said. 

Fleury said a representative of the store's operator, Patterson and Lavoie, will attend a community consultation on Thursday. 

All stores will be subject to a variety of regulations before doors open, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). 

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In Quebec, opening day attracted huge crowds and stores ran out of product

Ontario businesses that aren't ready to open on April 1 face a financial penalty. The AGCO will deduct $12,500 from the $50,000 credit operators put up if they're not ready for opening day, another $12,500 on April 15 and the remaining $25,000 on April 30.