Street East and Broadview Avenue.
It’s the second time Fletcher’s office has sent a letter to the Alcohol and
Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regarding the issue. The first was sent in
July 2020, when the city passed her motion requesting ACGO to consider the
proximity to community services and parks, as well as communications from the
city against clustering of cannabis shops.
While in the summer the initial objection referred to four pending
applications for pot shops on Queen Street East, this second objection comes
as the area is expecting to see seven such shops.
“It is concerning that there are so many along this stretch of Queen Street
East, and that they are so close to the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre,
the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, the Queen/Saulter Library and public
parks,” Fletcher wrote in the letter.
She said she has heard from several community members, with more than 20
constituents writing in, all trying to understand why there are seven cannabis
stores near one major intersection and how the AGCO approves applications for
“Everyone’s clear, no one is opposed to legal marijuana,” Fletcher told the
Beach Metro News. “They’re opposed to the overconcentration of shops.”
She cites the corner store model adopted by the current provincial government
as problematic for residents and communities, akin to having “seven LCBO
stores one after the other.”
Original regulations set up by the provincial government of Kathleen Wynne
restricted cannabis shops within 300 metres of a school, childcare centre, or
daycare centre, but Fletcher said “it flew out the window” with the change in
Others in the community raise economic and social concerns of the clustering
of pot shops.
“The problem is what’s happening on Queen is if you end up with all these
stores selling the same thing a whole lot of them will go out of business,”
Ralph Thornton Community Centre board chair Alan Lennon said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small business closures and
commercial evictions, Lennon is concerned that it will become more and more
difficult to fill the small storefronts in an economically viable way.
“The other part is, if you have a block with all the same shops, you’re not
going to have a lot of traffic – you’ve limited it,” he said.
“It doesn’t make economic sense to us,” Lennon said. “You’re setting up people
for failure in their business, and you’re making it so they will fail, and it
doesn’t make social sense, you’re setting up a community to be
“That’s not what we want,” he added. “And they’re [AGCO] not listening.”
Non-profit community organization Fontbonne Ministries has a branch – Mustard
Seed – on 791 Queen St. E. The location is a short walk from Queen Street East
and Boulton Avenue, where there are three pending cannabis shops at the small
“We understand it’s something legal, regulated, and you have these stores,”
Fontbonne Ministries executive director Ben Vozzolo said. “But we question the
need for that many in such a small area.”
The organization serves vulnerable populations and runs a drop-in program at
its Mustard Seed location on Queen Street East. Vozzolo raises concerns of
having so many cannabis stores in close proximity to vulnerable people.
But it’s not just the social effects, they’re concerned about the diversity of
retail in the neighbourhood.
“I’m curious to know what AGCO’s criteria is for determining how many of these
shops are put in one neighbourhood,” Vozzolo said.
Fontbonne, along with Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and other community
members, has sent letters to the AGCO asking about the approval of these
shops. No one has received any replies.
“It would be nice to have a response acknowledging the concern,” Vozzolo said.
In December 2020, AGCO announced it was issuing 80 cannabis retail store
authorizations per month. To date, it has received more than 1,300
applications for retail store authorizations, 305 have been issued and 269
authorized cannabis retail stores are currently open in the province.