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NSLC to open four new cannabis retail outlets in Cape Breton as part of expansion

The cannabis room at the Sydney River location of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is shown in this file photo. Sharon Montgomery-Dupe/Cape Breton Post
The cannabis room at the Sydney River location of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is shown in this file photo. Sharon Montgomery-Dupe/Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY, N.S. —

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. is making a major expansion in its retail cannabis operations in Cape Breton.

Saying that the move was to address geographical gaps and to better combat the illicit market, Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey announced in a news release Friday that renovations will begin soon in 14 stores across the province. Some of the new locations are expected to be ready in the fall, with all of the stores completed by the end of the next fiscal year.

In Cape Breton, new cannabis stores will be located Baddeck, Glace Bay, Port Hawkesbury and Sydney Mines. Currently, Sydney River is the only Cape Breton NSLC location selling cannabis products.

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018, with NSLC opening its first dozen retail outlets that October.

Beverley Ware
Beverley Ware

“This was a very tight timeline and it was an industry in which there was no sort of established market, so we needed to be cost-effective with the decisions that we were making,” Beverley Ware, spokesperson for NSLC, said in an interview. “Now that the industry is getting established and we have the second phase of cannabis products have now entered the market, we’re sort of focusing on how we can improve access to cannabis for Nova Scotia, which of course is our mandate.”

She noted that NSLC conducted research that demonstrated that the lack of a legal retail cannabis location in an area contributes to illicit sales.

“Nova Scotians have told us through that research that convenience and access are among the key reasons that they purchase from the NSLC, so it’s extremely important that we improve access to legal cannabis in order make an impact on the illicit market,” Ware said.

Geographic location was a key factor in determining where new locations would go, as well as whether existing stores had the space to accommodate cannabis sales.

The new locations will be the same model currently in use, a store-within-the-store model.

A request for proposals is expected to be issued in April but it’s unclear at this point when work at individual stores will be completed.

"We have said all along that we will move slowly and safely and need to be socially responsible and we are ready to take the next step,” Casey said in the release. “We have recognized that online sales so far have not addressed areas of the province where there was a gap and it is apparent that new customers want the in-store experience. We feel that opening more stores is the most effective way to deal with the illicit market, protect our children and keep communities safe."

The new outlets will range in size from 200 square feet for the smaller stores to 400 square feet for the larger stores.

Customers can also receive home delivery by ordering online through the NSLC cannabis website.

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