Article by Joanna Lavoie, Toronto.com
Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford wants those who live in the Upper Beach along with those who send or are considering sending their children to Beaches Montessori School at 950 Kingston Rd. to oppose an application to open a new cannabis store just four doors down.
Bradford is encouraging community members to sign an online petition he’s created as well as give feedback directly to the Province (file No. 729799) about the new pot shop proposed for 964 Kingston Rd.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is accepting comments until Friday, Nov. 22. Bradford intends to submit his petition to the AGCO for consideration. The applicant will then have five days to prepare a rebuttal before the AGCO makes its final decision.
During a recent interview, Bradford said Sessions on the Beaches, which has applied to open a new retail store at the former Randall’s Stationery, is using a loophole in the provincial legislation to apply for its cannabis retail license.
Technically, Beaches Montessori School is classified as a licensed child care centre, not a school under provincial law. If it were considered a school, a pot shop would not be allowed to open in such close proximity, Bradford explained.
According to the Cannabis Act, cannabis retailers must be 150 metres away from schools.
“This loophole is leaving out Montessori schools. My view is let’s call a spade a spade, a Montessori school is a school,” he said.
“This is an example of the province pushing something through. I don’t think the regulations were thoroughly contemplated.”
Leigh Anne Jacques opened Beaches Montessori School with business partner Julie Mitchell three years ago. They care for 65 children age 18 months to five years old.
Back in August, news broke that a cannabis shop wanted to open 30 metres away from their child care centre.
“Parents are totally upset,” said Jacques, who has devoted lots of time to fielding calls and messages from parents.
“We’re hoping now we can at least send them to the AGCO website to put in their comments.”
Jacques said they don’t know what the impacts will be when or if a pot shop opens near their Montessori school, but said they’d keep a close eye on the store and would work to ensure all safety concerns are addressed.