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Ottawa mayor dislikes format of provincial pot shop lottery

With just five licences available for all of Eastern Ontario, there's no guarantee Ottawa will get one
2018-12-12 ottawa mayor jim watson mv2
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson December 2018. Mike Vlasveld/ OttawaMatters

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has his fingers crossed when it comes to one of the legal cannabis store licenses landing in the city. 

There are 25 pot shop licenses available across Ontario, but just five for all of Eastern Ontario, which includes Ottawa.

Watson told 1310 NEWS that he is feeling a little worried, as it all comes down to a lottery put on by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. 

"We could have five in Kingston and none in Ottawa, which makes no sense at all," he said. "I hope that doesn't happen, but the luck of the draw is it may in fact happen, which is going to be a very bizarre situation. The second largest city in the province and we [wouldn't] have any cannabis stores." 

But, Watson explained that with so many applicants from Ottawa there is a good chance at least one of them will be pulled. 

The mayor said he wishes the process to decide who would be offered licenses was a little different. 

"I would have preferred to have an application based process and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission [would] look at those applications," he said. "And [decide] which one is the best, which one has some community support for the location and which one has the financial capacity to make sure it's a success on day one."

Each applicant that is chosen in the provincial lottery will have to decide whether or not they plan on moving ahead with a shop, if not the next one in line will get the offer. 

All stores must be ready to open by April 1, 2019 or face a $12,500 fine. 


Jenn Pritchard

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