Marijuana and the North East London Community

As Ontario gears up for the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, the community of North East London is gearing up too, with more dispensaries setting up shop and more clinics taking hold city wide. Now, news has been released that London will among the first group of cities in Ontario to get standalone pot shops as soon as recreational cannabis is legalized on 1st July.

Finding A Location

The Ministry of Finance and the LCBO have got together the identify the first fourteen municipalities to house the LCBO run stores. In south west Ontario, London was added to the list together with Windsor and Kitchener, and while the store locations have not yet been selected, meetings will take place with the selected municipalities over the weeks to come to discuss possible areas. Once a location has been selected, there will be a public notice posted both at the site itself and online, allowing the public the opportunity to ask any questions about the site before the official confirmation is made.

The government have said that they do not intend to house stores close to local schools, but the aim is to provide greater access to marijuana within communities while addressing the illegal markets. There are plans to set up around 150 standalone stores by 2020, with 80 of that number being opened before July 2019. Further municipalities will then be identified as time goes on.

London Leading The Way In Distributing Recreational Marijuana

Ontario holds the honor of being the first province which announced a detailed outline of distributing and selling recreational cannabis, setting the legal purchasing age at 19 years. Legislation was introduced in April by the Federal government with the aim of regulating and legalizing the use of recreational marijuana by 1st July 2018, however individual provinces have been allowed to design a system of distribution for their own use as well as their own regulations regarding usage. Ontario will not be permitting the consumption of cannabis in any workplace or public space and have declared that its use should solely be confined to private homes.

The upshot of this is that London, and its North Eastern community are at the forefront of the new recreational marijuana revolution, and it is already set to have a beneficial effect on the area and its residents. Leading the way in the sale and distribution of cannabis, London’s locals are already seeing the benefits with jobs and industry heading their way, and further economical advantages on the horizon. As new stores are set to open up in the community, it is highly likely that further cannabis-related businesses will also start to set up shop, and opportunities will present themselves for local entrepreneurs who are ready to harness the potential of the burgeoning industry.

Locals will also have a greater breadth of choice when it comes to buying their weed, with the option of going to a local standalone store or of buying online from a company like Green Panther, a Canadian marijuana dispensary.


On Saturday, November 30th, about 1,000 residents and friends came together to celebrate the grand opening of one of Northeast London’s hidden gems – the Carling-Thames Family Centre, located at 335 Belfield Street.

Sharing Our Story - Sharing Our HistorySharing Our Story - Sharing Our HistoryThe Family Centre is designed to make life easier for

Resident Family all families (particularly those with children 0-12 years old) by offering a single door to the many opportunities in one’s neighbourhood and city. It is part of the Child & Youth Network’s London-wide plan to develop 40 Family Centres across our forest city.

YMCA's Community Developer Arden McClean and Director-Educational Services Jo-elle RinkerThe YMCA of Western Ontario is the lead agency for the Carling-Thames Family Centre and works with the City of London, area service agencies, resident groups, and individuals, to provide the community with information, programs, activities and resources.

Local youth enjoying the eventOrganizing and planning such a large scale event is no easy feat – especially when resident community leaders, of diverse backgrounds, are called upon to lend their skills, expertise and talents to ensure a successful event.

Coordinator Carolyn InnisEvent Coordinators, Carolyn and Charles Innis, worked with volunteers from local resident groups, schools and neighbourhoods to make it happen.  After forming three distinct working teams, each team member put their best foot forward, primarily for one reason – to show their pride and love for their community!

Food galoreEven local area restaurants stepped up, without hesitation, to support the event by preparing and donating food and drinks to the event.Community Residents and Friends jamming on stage

Several performers loaned their talents and cultural gifts of music, song and dance. Service providers conducted activities for the young which allowed guests to learn about the many programs and activities offered at the Family Centre, and in the community.

Representatives from the City, Community and Residents cut cake!Of course, like any grand opening, we could not do without acknowledging and thanking London’s City Council and City Hall staff for their continued support for the growth and development of our Northeast neighbourhoods.Mayor Fontana with the peopleMayor Joe Fontana even took time out of his Saturday to be present, to “officially” open the Centre.

Watching stage performancesTo give you a sense of the magnitude of the event’s richness, the scope of the skills and talents shared, the generosity of our volunteers, supporters, and all who were involved in the preparation and organization of this wonderful, well organized event, let’s give thanks and acknowledge all who helped make this event AWESOME!


Some of the many NELCE members who were on hand to helpNELCE member Agatha Quadros busy serving foodNELCE MembersThe good folks of Northeast London Community Engagement [NELCE] must be thanked for their excellent work as our food services team. A great deal of heart, and thought was put into the dishes served, and their dedication enhanced the event’s success immensely.

Popcorn anyone?Also, special thanks to Jack McKillop of Kipps Lane & Community, who is a man of all trades.Fern Patterson, resident & Kipps Lane & Community Chair Aside from acting as an event courier, Jack helped move desks and tables from the stage, and helped out wherever there was a need.

One of our Greeters, AndyWe would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the custodial staff at the Northbrae Public School, and the Carling-Thames Family Centre, for keeping things clean and safe.  Playing GOOf course, many measures were in place to help ensure the safety of all attendees, and we would like to say thank you to all of the Greeters, and Area Monitors, with a special thanks going to Angela, our designated first aid responder.

Adina Innis belting out a wonderful songGrooving to the beat!The Grand Opening was full of so many special moments, with much forethought put into making it inter-generational, capacity building, entertaining, and up-lifting.


It was wonderful to see the spectacular dancers from O.N.E. Hip Hop Dance Studio, Dynamic Dozen, Fierce Flava, the Nepalese Community and Karen Community, joining The Beacock Line Dancers and Suzie as they demonstrated how easy and fun it is to line dance.

Dynamic Dozen strut their stuff!Karin Dancers

Once the gauntlet had been thrown down, nothing could stop Suzanne Walker-Stewart and her team of Line Dancers from reciprocating, busting their best moves during the Hip Hop dance workshop, to the delight of a packed audience.


Clarinet player Charles Innis


Additional thanks to The Big Picture, Genevieve Labbe, concertina player Tim Oliver, guitarist Douglas GillespieYan Hou who played the Guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither instrument, and gifted singer Adina Innis for bringing beautiful music to the event.”

Carolyn commented, “In making rounds, we left the backstage crew, and visited Joe, Leah, Denise, Ann, Deb, Gord, Sue, Bernardine, Agatha,Jenny, Jerome, Reda, Claudia and Erlinda, in the bustling food services area. Everyone was working through multiple constraints & challenges, all the while maintaining the professional spirit that gives potency to the words “The Show Must Go On!”FCCT volunteers serving food

“We stepped back out into the hallway, and found ourselves flanked by some of the event’s local business contributors. Those Garlic Fingers from Domino’s Pizza were pretty tasty, and a Starbucks coffee was certainly in order” Carolyn continued.  “CupcakesIt was very gracious of several businesses at Northland Mall to come together in such a strong demonstration of support for the community.

Tremendous thanks also go out to Kelsey’s East, Pizza Hut, Mo Mo’s from the Western Fair Market, Dooly’s Middle Eastern Food, Thuan Kieu Vietnamese Restaurant,Vegway, Metro, Pet Paradise (for gift certificates to give away), Home Hardware, Jumbo Video, Huron House Restaurant, and all of the people who came out to sample their fares and wares.”Tim and Douglas playing

Play time“Every sector of the community came together on this magical day, and it really did convey a beautiful sense of unity in diversity!” stated Charles, noting that, “Behind all of the hard work, and passionate participation, was a planning team which comprised many kind-hearted, dynamic, and dedicated community stakeholders.”NELCE member Mo Salih with Karen DancersOur Story

The Northeast Community would be remiss if we did not offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to the following people, groups and organizations, who helped put this event together:

  • Bethany & Tony Mejia for the historical ”East of Adelaide” display
  • Fern Patterson and Mark Rose, Kipps Lane & Community
  • Jacqueline Fraser, Northeast London Community Engagement
  • Christine Smith, Resident
  • Will Graham, Neon Crab Tattoos & Piercing
  • Maria Forte, Beacock Branch Library
  • Liz Hicks, Childreach
  • Elisabete Rodrigues and Meaghan Warwick, LUSO
  • Claudette Andress, The Family Centre YMCA
  • Yasika Jarquin, Merrymount Children’s Centre
  • Janice Hamilton, The City of London
  • Yasmin Hussain, The Memorial Boys and Girls Club
  • and the Staff of the Carling-Thames Family Centre – Arden McClean, Teresa Wilson, Kate Burton, Patricia Winiarczyk and Theresa Reavely.

Activities for ToddlersMany organizations had staff members enthusiastically helping in the various activity spaces. Elementary and high school students from Catholic Central, Hillcrest, Northbrae, Sir John A. MacDonald, Evelyn Harrison, Lord Elgin, Bishop Townshend, John Paul II, Montcalm, A.B. Lucas, and Knollwood Parkdemonstrated their leadership skills in their roles as community ambassadors.Craft time

Playing with a truckWhen attending community events Karen Dancers share their cultural heritagelike this, it is always comforting to see the delight on children’s faces enjoying the many activities, smell the aromas of multicultural foods, feel the energetic vibes of the volunteers, sense the beauty and inclusiveness of community spirit and taste success in our area of London!  What a great way to reaffirm our passion and love for our Northeast community!