Cannabis and community

In case you missed it, the Glebe now has half a dozen cannabis dispensaries: The Good Company, Superette, Plateau, High Ties, Big Bamboo and now One Plant, which just opened on the ground floor of the Amica building.

If we take the Glebe and Glebe Annex population as about 13,000 (according to uOttawa’s Neighbourhood Study), then we appear to have a cannabis outlet for every 2,200 people.

If you remove children and youth from that figure, the Glebe population is about 9,000 adults. (About 2,000 of those are over 65, but baby boomers are as interested as anyone in cannabis, so let’s leave them in.) That makes it one cannabis outlet for every 1,500 Glebe adults.

Never have we been so well served.

On the other hand, we have three or so grocery stores and three drugstores. Only one hardware store. We have, I believe, only two corner stores left, after losing Yaghi’s and Fifth Avenue Grocery as well as the Mac’s Milk on Bank Street.

What’s my point? I start to think about the kind of community we are or want to be. Ivo Krupka’s article (page 32) on the close ties between Bank Street businesses and Glebe Collegiate over the last hundred years is an arresting reminder of the value of deep neighbourhood connections that build community over many years. How often do you run into people you know in the grocery store or drug store or drycleaners? The businesses that get to know their regulars, that donate goods for community events, that support local causes, that hire the teenagers of their customers, that serve in some ways as hubs for neighbours meeting neighbours – these are the building blocks of community.

There’s nothing wrong with cannabis dispensaries. But for long-term nurturing of strong community ties, we may need to look elsewhere.

—Liz McKeen

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