‘A bridge too far’?

Dear Editor:

RE: Council says no to cannabis stores, May 30.

I’m writing in to share my thoughts and opinion of the travesty that took place during the Centre Wellington council meeting on May 27. 

We saw council shoot down a motion to legalize cannabis shops in CW, citing a “bad cannabis market” and the desire of keeping the small-town charm and not have stores on every corner. 

I understand the hesitation about opening the market and having cannabis shops on every corner of “Main Street.” It’s a valid concern, especially considering the saturation of stores in various parts of the province, which has left some residents dissatisfied.

Centre Wellington has some of the lowest retail store vacancy rates in the province. If you doubt this, just ask anyone who has attempted to open a store in town. Finding a vacant storefront is nearly impossible.

Furthermore, there is a 150-metre buffer zone from schools, ensuring that children are not exposed to these stores. The shops are completely opaque from the outside, and they check IDs at the entrance to ensure compliance with regulations.

Additionally, the limited number of plazas in town, many of which have lease clauses prohibiting competing businesses, means there are few spaces available for cannabis shops.

The president of Pearle Hospitality, famously known for their Elora Mill waterfront condos, penned a letter to CW council imploring them to vote “no” on cannabis retail in town. This letter was made public in the 11th hour, when the meeting agenda for vote day was released. 

The claim that cannabis shops are destroying neighborhoods across the province is unfounded. It’s surprising to hear this from Mr. Ciancone considering the impact the Elora Mill and Pearle Hospitality has had on downtown Elora – arguably more disruptive than any cannabis retail presence ever could. You have destroyed the idea of our “model village” more than 100 cannabis stores ever could. 

The Elora Mill and Pearle Hospitality prioritize tourist dollars over the interests of residents, and our mayor and council seem to side with them, despite nearly 80% of voters expressing their concerns in a survey – eight times the usual response rate.

The ultimate hypocrisy of Centre Wellington is our mayor and council voting against cannabis while approving more alcohol and event permits. Adding to it, beer, wine and cocktails will be for sale at every corner store and gas station come September. 

We even have a casino in our quaint little town. But cannabis is a bridge too far?

John Mifsud,