Recreational Cannabis Retail Stores in St. Catharines

At a meeting on Jan. 14, 2019, St. Catharines City Council opted in to permitting private retail cannabis stores to locate in the city.

While Council voted to allow stores to locate in the City, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is charged with approval, licensing, regulating and enforcement of private cannabis retail stores and will oversee the stores, which will be permitted to open on April 1.

All comments and public input on atore applications must be directed to the AGCO via during the agency's public notice process. Applications undergoing public notice can be found online by searching the AGCO website.

In addition to notifying the AGCO of its decision, Council is also requesting the province provide greater regulatory input and control when it comes to the location of stores in communities.

The City wishes to thank the public for its input, which helped inform a staff report on the issue of the sale of cannabis in licensed retail outlets in St. Catharines.

Guidelines for AGCO comment

The City has developed municipal cannabis retail store guidelines, approved by Council on Feb. 25, as a recommendation to the AGCO, however, the City has no decision making role or authority in the process and provincial regulation prohibits City zoning bylaws from regulating location of the stores.

The guidelines recommend the store be located on properties zoned to permit retail stores, that are visible and accessible.

The guidelines also identify sensitive uses that City staff recommend a 150-metre buffer distance from cannabis retail stores, including libraries, hospitals, social services (such as hospitals, addiction and mental health facilities), money-dispensing stores, theatres, bowling alleys and swimming pools / splash pads.

Public Engagement

During a public meeting on Dec. 11, City staff provided a presentation on the legislative and regulatory framework for permitting private retail cannabis stores. Thank you to those who attended. Your feedback is appreciated.

The City also received feedback from thousands of individuals through an online survey and telephone poll that were conducted.


  • Recreational cannabis was legalized Oct. 17, 2018, by the federal government. The Province of Ontario has laws in place about how, where and who can buy and possess cannabis in Ontario. You can learn more about Ontario’s rules and regulations for legal use here, as well as the federal framework here.
  • On Oct. 17, the Province provided a model for the establishment of private retail stores for the sale of legalized recreational cannabis. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) is charged with licencing, regulating and enforcement of private cannabis retail stores.
  • The AGCO will begin accepting applications for new stores in December of 2018 with the intent to have private retail cannabis stores operational by April 1, 2019.
  • Prior to issuing any licences for the operation of a private cannabis retail store, the Province is giving all local municipalities the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of locating recreational cannabis retail stores within the municipality. The municipality deadline is Jan. 22, 2019.

To provide direct input or to obtain further information regarding the establishment of recreation cannabis retail stores, contact Bruce Bellows, Senior Planner, Planning and Building Services Department, at 905-688-5601, ext. 1706, via email at, or through the City’s TTY number (text telephone) at 905- 688- 4TTY (4889).

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