Wynne asks for answers after cannabis store set to open near a school
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne leaves a news conference at Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto on Thursday Jan. 25, 2018. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is looking into how a decision was made to place one of the province's first government-run cannabis stores less than a kilometre from a school. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Premier Kathleen Wynne wants answers about Toronto's first legal cannabis store and why it's proposed location is within walking distance of two public elementary schools.
The LCBO announced where the first four provincially run pot shops will operate, incluing one at 2480 Gerrard St. E. But the Cannabis Store's location immediately raised eyebrows because of its proximity to the two schools.
Blantyre Public School is 450 metres away while Adam Beck Junior Public School is 750 metres away. Both schools, operated by the TDSB, are under a 10 minute walk from the proposed pot shop.
"I'm going to be asking staff about this," the premier told reporters at a news conference this morning, stressing that the province's priority has been the safety and security of children. "I just want to know that the school board had input into it."
The chair of the Toronto District School Board said neither they, nor the community, was consulted and that they only learned about the Gerrard store location when it was publicly announced on Wednesday.
"We find that disturbing," Robin Pilkey told CTV News Toronto, adding they didn't have time to consult with families. "We would have gone to the parents to hear what they had to say."
Pilkey said while cannabis would be sold legally, the board's concern is who else might be lurking in the neighbourhood where children are present. Pilkey couldn't say whether any location would be ideal, citing a lack of conversation with parents.
Ontario plans to open 150 stand-alone cannabis stores by 2020, including 40 stores by July. While the locations of all the stores have yet to be revealed, the province laid out a set of guidelines in October to ensure retail operations wouldn't be open in close proximity of schools.
Even Wynne admitted pot shops may be difficult to place.
"I know there are a lot of factors and in Toronto there are 800 schools. So there are schools in many, many, many neighbourhoods."
Not only is the Gerrard St. location near schools, but it would operate side by side with businesses frequented by families. The plaza is home to a Kumon Math & Reading Centre, a Martial Arts school as well as a McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Little Caesars pizza and a convenience store.
The school board is now looking for the criteria the province used to select the Toronto cannabis store, but admits there is not much that can be done.
"We don't have a lot of recourse," Pilkey said. "Parents have a lot of recourse. We are coming up to an election."