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Georgina Island First Nation eyeing pot shop licence

From yorkregion.com link to post by Amanda Persico Aug 5th 2019

With the second wave of cannabis retail store licences up for grabs, Georgina may be getting a retail pot shop after all. 

Despite the town closing its doors to a brick-and-mortar cannabis retailer, there still could be a pot shop in Georgina. 

Recently, the provincial government announced its second wave of private cannabis store licences, with eight reserved for First Nations communities. 

And the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation is eyeing one of those licences, said the First Nation business centre general manager Scott Jacobs, speaking on behalf of the band council. 

“We’re looking at economic development for First Nations, such as local jobs and the chance to own a business,” said Jacobs, with the Island View Business Centre.

Developed in 2016, the business centre is home to the specialty tobacco shop, Tobacco Trails, Virginia Beach Marina, lotto centre, Boondocks Restaurant and the First National lands management office. 

If the band chooses to go through with the process, the proposed location of the public pot shop would not be on Georgina Island only accessible by ferry or boat, but instead would be on mainland Georgina.

The Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation 33A reserve is a paved parcel of land on mainland Georgina located near the Virginia Beach area, nestled between Virginia Boulevard and Dallas Lane along Black River Road. 

The plot of First Nation land, about three acres in size, sits at the base of the Lake Simcoe ferry docks and is home to the Island View Business Centre. 

Earlier this year, Georgina council voted four to three to opt out of the cannabis store process. 

But municipal bylaws do not apply to reserve lands. 

There is also the option to file for a federal cannabis license parallel to the provincial government process, depending on the land jurisdiction, Jacobs said. 

Of the second wave of 50 private cannabis stores, 13 are reserved for Toronto; 11 in western Ontario; eight for First Nation communities; seven in eastern Ontario; six in the GTA area; and one each in Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins. 

There is a separate lottery for eight licenses reserved for First Nations communities, leaving the more than 130 reserves to fight on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Along with a bank letter confirming $250,000 in cash or credit and a letter confirming retail space would be available for an October start date, the provincial government also requires a letter of approval from the First Nations band council. 

The local band can check off the first two requirements, Jacobs said, but is waiting for formal approval from the band council. 

“In the end, it’s still a lottery,” he said. 

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