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Brampton council votes at 11th hour to opt in on pot shops

Brampton city council voted late Monday night for legalized cannabis shops in their city as of April 1. Councillors voted eight to three in favour of opting in.

The vote followed a three-hour long meeting that got heated at times got as the councillors debated whether to allow brick-and-mortar cannabis stores within the city’s boundaries.

At least one person stormed out of council chambers in anger, but several people stood and cheered when the final vote was announced.

‘This was a difficult debate’

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who was for the city opting in, said he was proud of the maturity shown by councillors.

“This was a difficult debate for our city but I am proud of our city council for showing the maturity to look at all angles of this,” Brown said after the vote.

“I believe the made the best decision for the city of Brampton.”

The last-minute vote comes just a day before Ontario municipalities can choose to opt out of the private cannabis business.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government announced last year that local governments had to make the decision whether or not to play host to pot shops by Jan. 22, 2019.

So far, cities including Mississauga, Markham and Oakville have voted to opt out.

Top bureaucrats in Brampton had recommended that the city allow the stores.

A recent phone survey and online poll conducted by the city found that 54 per cent of residents support the opening of cannabis stores, while 62 per cent of cannabis buyers said they’d prefer shopping at a physical store over the online-only Ontario Cannabis Store.

“As such, staff is recommending that Council support the City allowing private cannabis retail stores to operate in Brampton,” the report says.

While municipalities have until Jan. 22 to opt out, the province will allow those local governments to reverse that decision later on. However, municipalities that vote to allow cannabis stores now will not be permitted to opt out at a later date.

Earlier this month, the PC government held a lottery and named the first 25 companies that can apply for cannabis retail licences in the province.

Six of the winners are in the 905 region.

The first stores are scheduled to open on April 1.


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