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OCS Spent $1.2M Then Abandons Store?

The Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario has ordered the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) to release information about how much it spent on a planned Ontario Cannabis Store retail location in Guelph that was ultimately abandoned after the Crown corporation decided to stick with e-commerce and wholesale.

A newspaper in Ontario, the Guelph Mercury Tribune, filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request back in 2018 for the OCRC to release documents regarding rent already paid and other expenses, as well as the terms of the lease. At first, the OCRC, backed by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), refused to give up the documents, however, after some pressure from the IPC, it disclosed that the Crown corporation had agreed to $1.2 million in contracts, taxes included, for the store.

This new order was submitted by Valerie Jepson, adjudicator for the IPC, on March 19 and requests the OCRC to release the remaining information about the actual amount paid and the terms of the lease. According to the LCBO and OCRC, releasing this information could harm the financial interests of an institution or the province, and that the financial information had been provided in confidence.

Jepson shut this down though, saying that “the OCRC has not established that disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice its own economic interests or its competitive advantage, or to be injurious to the financial interests of the government of Ontario or the ability of the government to manage the Ontario economy.”

The Crown corporation, essentially, didn’t provide enough information to back up their claims.

“Without more specific information, it is my view that the evidence offered by the LCBO is speculative,” Jepson went on to say.

Unless this more specific information is provided, the remaining documents should be released by the end of April.

Don’t worry about the abandoned store, though. It was promptly scooped up by Fire & Flower, which now operates its own retail store in the location.