The first legal cannabis retail store in Summerside will be located at 425 Granville St. – the former location of the city’s short-lived foray into Starbucks coffee patronage.
The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission (PEILCC) announced Wednesday the future locations of two of four planned, provincially-owned, cannabis retail outlets. The second was 509 Main St. in Montague.
The province issued requests for proposals (RFP) from property developers to find homes for its new stores. In addition to Summerside and Montague, there are plans to open retail outlets in the West Prince area and Charlottetown, but a spokesperson for the province said no bids meeting its requirements were received yet for the latter two areas and new RFPs would be issued to try and find locations. It also noted that only one response to the RFP was received in each case for Summerside and Montague.
The federal government is working towards the legalization of marijuana later this year.
News of where the Summerside location would be going came as a surprise to those interviewed by the Journal Pioneer.
Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said he had received no prior indication of the province’s plans.
“The good news is that I prefer to see someone in the Starbucks location than have it be empty. But I’m a little surprised that location can be retrofitted to the extent that it’s necessary,” said Martin, adding the requirements for housing one of these retail outlets is stringent.
Charlottetown is early in the process of developing its own cannabis bylaw, but Martin said that has not been on Summerside council’s radar just yet.
He added that the city has already sent two of its police officers away to be trained to recognize impairment by cannabis and plans to have another two certified in the coming months.
The selection of 425 Granville St. also raised some eyebrows in relation to its proximity to Athena Consolidated school.
The PEILCC is recommending that cannabis stores be “a respectful distance,” from schools. A spokesperson clarified that the commission considers such a distance to be about 300 metres.
The spokesperson added that the distance between the location in question and Athena, about 700 metres, was considered when this property was being evaluated and was deemed sufficient.
Kimberly Studer, president of the Athena Home and School, said she wanted to consult with her group before making a statement on its behalf, but did say she personally has no major concerns with the store’s location.
“We have a liquor store close by as well. It’s very similar in distance. As long as the same safety precautions … are put in place, hopefully there would be no concerns or issues that come from there,” she said.
The PEILCC has dedicated a section of its website to provide updates on the province’s efforts regarding legalized cannabis, it can be found at: http://liquorpei.com/peilcc-cannabis-updates/.