Number of cannabis dispensaries in Ottawa growing
The number of cannabis dispensaries in Ottawa continues to grow, with even more under review.
It seems like there is a pot shop on every corner in Ottawa, but that doesn't bother avid pot smoker Alex Montpetit.
“It’s really nice. It’s quick. It’s easy to access,” says Montpetit. “It’s nice to know that you’re getting quality products. You’re getting stuff that’s regulated, tested. Because back in the day of the black market, you never really knew where it was coming from.”
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, there are more than 100 pot shops in Ottawa with 40 more under review.
Some residents are concerned that so many dispensaries are popping up in their neighbourhoods. Others are just happy to see local businesses fill vacancies.
Matt Sicoli is with Bluebird Recreational Cannabis, which has nine locations throughout Ottawa.
“It is saturated in certain parts of the area. There’s some stores that are three or four locations within 100 metres apart,” says Sicoli. “Everyone just jumped on board, probably assuming they’re making millions of dollars a month or year, and everyone jumped on. But you know, you have to be strategic where you open your store. It’s all about location and customer service and products.”
In January 2020, the Ontario government removed the retail limit for dispensaries, making way for a flood of applications.
“The fact is that there’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation about cannabis retail in this province, kind of leading into the opening of the application process for retail stores,” says Trina Fraser, Partner at Brazeau Seller Law. “I think just the way it’s structured, we were inevitably going to have an initial oversupply.”
Right now, there are about 1,500 pot shops in Ontario with an estimated 400 pending applications. If all were to be accepted, there would be nearly as many cannabis stores in the province as Tim Hortons coffee shops.
Pierre Killeen, VP of the Cannabis Council of Canada, says the popularity of pot is keeping thousands employed.
“What we’re really witnessing in the growth of a brand new industry with a really dynamic supply chain,” says Killeen. “One of the great stories about cannabis is the creation of 50,000 jobs directly in the industry, and then another 100,000 jobs that support the industry. Lawyers, accountants, transportation companies.”
As for Montpetit, he’s just glad his recreational pot is safer than it used to be.
“The fact that we’re getting it though the regulated market now really helps, just knowing the fact you’re getting proper quality stuff,” says Montpetit. “You’re not risking those types of adverse effects to your body as much.”