Steven Fry says Hamilton’s “vibrant” cannabis community is a big reason why he wants to open a “beautiful” store in the city.
The former Hamilton resident, who earned his MBA at McMaster University, has applied to open a legal cannabis shop in the Centre on Barton.
But he might be in for some competition.
A second outlet, dubbed Hello Cannabis Store, has applied to open at 57 Cootes Drive and has also officially entered the public notice stage of the provincial government’s authorization process.
That means the city could see two of the seven shops slated to open in the province’s “west region” which stretches from Essex County to Niagara.
Both stores face a tight timeline to complete the government’s mandatory 15-day public comment period ahead of the April 1 deadline.
But Fry, who hopes to open an outlet of western Canadian cannabis chain Canna Cabana, said he’s “working diligently” to be ready in time.
“It’s a very tall task,” he explained. “There’s a lot of steps to make this happen between permitting and construction … and hiring employees.”
I look forward to them prospering and, by extension, the city as well.– Coun . Sam Merulla
The application process includes a site inspection and $50,000 letter of credit.
Government regulations also state cannabis stores can’t be within 150 metres of a school and must follow zoning rules.
Members of the public can comment on the Hello Cannabis application until March 27. The Centre on Barton location is open for feedback until March 23.
Fry says he’s already spending big to make the 2,400 square feet he has to work with stand out.
“It’s going to be a beautiful store with high-end finishes,” he explained during a phone interview with CBC News.
“A lot of money is being spent on construction and demolition. It’s going to be a really nice store with areas to collaborate and learn more about the product and make it the best customer experience possible.”
A ‘vibrant community’ when it comes to cannabis
Fry declined to discuss his cannabis experience, but described himself as “an entrepreneurial spirit and a business person.”
His experience with the city and its population is what initially drew him to consider Hamilton as the location to open his shop. But, Fry admits, its reputation didn’t hurt either.
“Hamsterdam … the pot city, it’s certainly a vibrant community in the cannabis space.”
I think this is the safer bet for residents.– Steven Fry
If Fry is successful, his store would open up in councillor Sam Merulla’s ward.
The Ward 4 representative previously said he would welcome the store and pointed out the plaza was actually scouted by the previous provincial government as a possible legal outlet location.
“I look forward to them prospering and, by extension, the city as well,” he said.
“Our concern from a neighbourhood perspective is getting rid of the illegal dispensaries and the fact that this is going to be opening up in the area, I think will be a huge help. I think it’ll be welcomed.”
Fry said he hasn’t really considered what role his store would play in cutting down on illegal consumption, but said he does plan to “play well with the government” and establish a “trustworthy” product.
“Certainly I think this is the safer bet for residents [because it] meets the very stringent requirements of the government.”