The first provincially run cannabis store in Toronto is set to open in Scarborough.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Cannabis Store announced Wednesday that the store will be located at 2480 Gerrard Street East in a strip mall near Victoria Park.
Three other shops will be opened in Guelph, Kingston and Thunder Bay.
The agencies say the locations comply with local zoning rules, minimize proximity to schools and factor in where illegal dispensaries are currently operating.
However, the location of the Scarborough store is also home to a tutoring centre which specializes in helping preschoolers through to Grade 12 students and a martial arts school.
Councillor Gary Crawford, who represents the area where the first government-licenced pot shop will open, expressed surprise that his area was chosen.
“It is happening, this is where the country is going and I understand that reality and we just have to ensure that its done appropriately and safely,” he tells 680 News.
Crawford says he expects the store to open sometime this fall.
Victor, a resident of the area, says even though there are some schools in the area he’s not too worried.
“Why not, it’s got to be somewhere,” he tells 680 News. “It might as well be in an open area that at least there could be a few eyes on it. You don’t want to hide this stuff.”
“Children will find it, they already know about it.”
Forty stores are expected to open this year and another 40 by July of next year. In total, the province plans to set up roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020.
Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana and will set the legal age to purchase it at 19.
The federal government introduced legislation last April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational pot by this summer, but left it up to individual provinces to design their own distribution system and usage regulations.