By Don Norman
Residents of Lac du Bonnet now know what retail outlet will be selling their weed. On May 15, the province held a lottery to determine which of a number of pre-approved businesses would be selected to be allowed to open a store in Lac du Bonnet. Curiously, the vendor selected was The Viscount Gort Motor Hotel Ltd..
The selection process is part of the second phase of Manitoba’s cannabis retail rollout that began on October 17, 2018. “Following the federal government’s decision to legalize non-medical cannabis, we made a commitment to ensure 90 per cent of Manitobans have access to a cannabis store in a 30-minute drive from home within two years of legalization,” said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen. “The selection process is the next step in meeting this goal.”
In July 2018, the province released a Request for Pre-Qualification (RFPQ) seeking potential retailers interested in a future opportunity to operate cannabis retail stores in Manitoba. The RFPQ directed respondents to name communities where they would be prepared to open a store and nearly 100 applicants pre-qualified as part of this process.
The selection process will consist of a randomized draw, called the cannabis retail opportunities draw. Each pre-qualified retailer will receive one ballot per community of interest and one winning ballot will be drawn for each identified community. Successful applicants can then proceed through the agreement and licensing process.
Lac du Bonnet was one of seven Manitoba communities that were included in the cannabis retail opportunities draw. The others were: Altona; Flin Flon; Niverville; Rural Municipality of Russell-Binscarth; Swan River; and Virden.
In case the winner of that draw is unable or unwilling to unable to open a store in town, a second ballot was also be drawn to select a standby retailer who will be asked to step up should the need arise. The standby retailer is Matzelle Holdings Ltd.
Selected retailers have been asked to confirm whether or not they are interested in opening a store in community they were drawn for, and will have 10 days to confirm their interest. If the selected retailer decides not to pursue a retail store in that community, the opportunity will be presented to the standby retailer drawn for that community.