PROPOSED LOCATION A cannabis shop has been proposed for the Sungate Plaza in Summerland. The proposed location in the downtown shopping centre conforms to Summerland’s regulations for cannabis retail stores, but the school board has raised concerns about its proximity to two schools. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland council approves cannabis retail location

School board raises concerns about proximity to two schools

Summerland council approved a referral for an application for a non-medical cannabis retail store in the downtown area, but the school board is opposed to the location.

The application is for a retail store for Mojo Cannabis at 3-13604 Victoria Rd. N, in the Sungate Plaza. The location is the present site of Martin’s Flowers.

“No negative impact on the community is anticipated if the application is approved as the use is permitted in the zoning,” a statement in the council resolution read.

The official community plan designation of Downtown Commercial and the zoning designation of Central Business CB1 would both remain unchanged.

However, Dave Stathers, a Summerland school trustee on the Okanagan Skaha School Board, said the board is concerned with the location, since two schools are also located in the downtown area.

“It’s too close — much too close,” he said.

The store location conforms to the municipality’s requirement of a 50-metre distance from schools, community and youth centres, libraries, parks and playgrounds.

The school board believes the 50-metre separation is much too close.

READ ALSO: Petition urges limits on retail cannabis stores in Summerland

READ ALSO: Regulations vary for cannabis retail stores

“The Board of Education would like to respectfully suggest a review of the policy, to increase the general guidelines for pedestrian travel distance,” a letter from board chair James Palanio states.

Stathers said the school board would prefer to see cannabis retail stores located on the outskirts of the community.

Richard Joncas, owner of Martin’s Flowers in Summerland, said cannabis is a legal product. He added that the location will not have a negative effect on the comunity.

Anthony Haddad, chief administrative officer for Summerland, said every community has differing regulations for cannabis retail locations.

Coun. Doug Holmes said expanding the buffer zones around schools in the community would allow just one cannabis location, at Summerfair Shopping Centre, essentially creating a monopoly. At present, the community’s only cannabis retail store is operating in this shopping centre.

Coun. Richard Barkwill said the free market will determine how many cannabis retail stores in the community will survive.

Coun. Erin Trainer said the store location will not affect cannabis use among youths. Instead, she said education about cannabis is needed.

The resolution to forward the application to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch received unanimous council approval.

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