As Mississauga chooses cannabis stores, Oakville remains last holdout in western GTA
Published April 23, 2023 at 5:19 pm
With Mississauga’s recent decision to allow cannabis stores to set up shop, Oakville remains the only municipality in the western GTA that remains steadfast in its opposition.
Last week, after five years of rejecting the official cannabis program to operate within its borders, Mississauga politicians did an about-face and decided to embrace the idea which is already in place in Burlington, Hamilton, Halton Hills, Brampton and Milton.
While Mississauga had never ardently opposed the concept of pot shops, it insisted on regulatory control over the industry, something the Ontario government refused to give.
Now that Oakville is surrounded by shops that can legally sell marijuana and related products, are politicians here ready to jump on board?
In an interview last month with Khaled Iwamura of inhalton.com, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton didn’t express optimism that cannabis shops will be operating in town anytime soon.
“You know that 8-ball, that toy that everybody had as a kid? I would shake the 8-ball and turn it upside down and up to the top would float the answer ‘doubtful,'” was Burton’s colourful response.
But since that interview Mississauga has changed its mind which has led some insiders to suggest that Oakville’s time could be coming soon.
About a year ago Oakville Ward 1 Councillor Sean O’Meara put the subject on the table but it received no support.
“I don’t think the will is there to overturn this, so I won’t rock the boat at this point,” O’Meara said at the time on whether he would continue to consider the matter.
One of the long-standing complaints municipalities have is the lack of control they have over the stores.
Up until now, Mississauga councillors rejected the stores over fears of “clustering” in neighbourhoods along with the traditional concern that it could lead to addiction as well as being too readily available to young people. These concerns have also been raised by Oakville councillors.
However, while clustering was an issue in some municipalities during the early introduction of the stores, that concern has lessened as the marketplace has weeded out a lot of the competition.
Further, with delivery services allowed to operate, Oakville residents in need can just order the product online and have it delivered to their homes. And now you can just drive 15 minutes in any direction to make a purchase.
As one Oakville insider put it, “If anyone wants it they can get it, it’s not a big deal.”
Under the rules set up by the Province municipalities can opt-in to the cannabis program at any time. However, once you are in you can’t opt out. But now, with the advantage of watching how cannabis stores operate in nearby towns and cities, Oakville is in a position to make a very informed decision if it is put back on the table.
“With Mississauga being the last large municipality to opt-in it kind of changes the playing field,” the Oakville source continued. “If it works well every place else — and that’s what we are seeing — then I would have to say we have no reason not to. Mississauga changed its mind, maybe Oakville will too.”inhalton's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising