Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2018
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 The Toronto Star
Author: Victoria Gibson


Premier Kathleen Wynne has ordered that school boards be given a say
in where provincial marijuana stores are located, noting that boards
are likely to know "where their kids go at lunchtime (and) where they
go after school."

Her demand came after the announcement that Toronto's first outlet of
the Ontario Cannabis Store would be located in Scarborough, 450 metres
from Blantyre Public School. The Toronto District School Board said it
had asked to be consulted about the location, but never was. Concerned
Blantyre parents discussed the news at a school council meeting last

But is there anywhere in the city a marijuana store could land without
customers crossing paths with schoolchildren and teens?

According to data compiled by the Star, more than half the city is
within 450 metres of a school, even without factoring in areas where
children and teenagers spend their recreational time. Article
Continued Below

The blank spaces left over range from industrial areas to High Park to
the Toronto South Detention Centre, a maximum-security correctional

While debate rages on at Queen's Park, several of Toronto's business
improvement areas (BIAs) told the Star they'd actually welcome a
provincially run marijuana shop - and that, regardless of proximity to
schools or child-centric areas, kids wouldn't be able to just waltz in
and buy pot.

"I'm sure they'd have protocols to prevent children from purchasing
the product, that are equal to or greater than the Madison (pub)
selling a pint of beer to an 8-year-old," said Brian Burchell, chair
of the Bloor Annex BIA. "Everywhere in our area is near a school,
along with half of our members being bars."

Burchell said the downtown BIAs have been forced to confront the issue
of marijuana stores before, discussing the multitude of dispensaries
that set up shop downtown before provincially run stores even entered
the equation. "We've always felt obliged to accommodate a variety of
businesses, all of which were compliant with what we understand to be
the Criminal Code and various bylaws that we, as a city board, are
obliged to follow," he told the Star.

"If a business is illegal, we would not be comfortable with
accommodating it within our precinct."

But provincially run, wholly legal marijuana stores are a different
question for him. "Insofar that the business is legal, and deemed
locally desirable - I mean from the perspective that there's a market
and the business can be profitable and serve a community of users - I
can't see why we'd be opposed," he said. "(Bloor) is one of the most
eclectic, thriving streets in the city ... I don't see why that kind
of business wouldn't fit in."

Some BIAs are taking an even stronger stance in support of marijuana
stores in their area. Ellen Anderson is chair of the Dovercourt
Village BIA, among the tiniest of Toronto's 83 designated areas, and
she thinks a marijuana shop would be good for the neighbourhood.

Dovercourt Village was founded in the late 1800s, but the area has
seen some of its local business decline over the years.

A marijuana shop would fit in well, she said, because the area has
maintained "reasonable" rent prices, and because it's "quirky" and
"under the radar."

"There are a lot of creative people who are residents around here,"
she said. "I think the bakery would be good for people who get the
munchies, because they bake those wonderful Portuguese egg tarts!"

Anderson said there are few kids in the area. "There is one daycare,
but those kids are so little it's not going to have any effect on
them. They're not teenagers," she said. "It's not child-oriented. It's
more or less grown-up oriented. There's a drum shop, and teenagers
might go into the drum shop to buy a drum kit, but they don't hang out
there. There isn't a teenage hangout place, which is a big plus."

For some other BIAs in the city, the job is to support local
businesses - no matter what they sell.

"West Queen West supports all their members," executive director Rob
Sysak told the Star. "I'm sure some board members and some of the
community probably (do) not, but as executive director, my job is to
support members. And if a business opens up in West Queen West, they
have my support."

As for Toronto's school-free zones, here are a few places a pot shop
could exist outside the 450-metre rule:

The Toronto Islands and harbour: There's just one school on the
Toronto Islands, called Island Public/Natural Science School, which
has been there since 1988 and goes up to Grade 6. There are a few
other schools along the harbour, but the area is largely dominated by
factories, the ferry docks, businesses, restaurants and hotels.

The Canadian National Exhibition: Exhibition Place, home to the Canadian 
National Exhibition in the summer and a flurry of trade and consumer 
shows in between, is a sprawling expanse of convention, exhibition and 
conference venues. The Better Living Centre became a 24-hour respite 
shelter during the frigid cold of this past winter, and the Enercare 
Centre became a sleek, security-heavy venue for Hillary Clinton's book 
tour in September.

High Park and the Humber River Valley: Putting a pot store in High Park, 
Toronto's largest public park, or Humber River Valley, the city's 
largest watershed, would mean travelling outside the area where you 
bought your marijuana to use it. Ontario will outlaw marijuana usage in 
all parks and public places when the substance becomes legal. Plus, the 
areas are filled with hiking trails, a zoo, playgrounds for children, 
and known wildlife corridors.

Near Pearson airport: Highways, landing strips, industrial spaces and
planes: all fill the land surrounding Pearson International Airport
without throwing schools in the mix. Though the airport's screeners
are no longer calling the cops when a passenger shows up for their
flight with a marijuana prescription (as long as they're carrying 150
grams or less), that doesn't mean the transport authority is looking
for the province to set up shop next door.

Rouge Park: Rouge National Urban Park is Toronto's only campground, its 
government website boasts, and one of the region's largest marshes. It 
includes some of Canada's oldest known Indigenous sites and is cut 
through by the Rouge River. Thousands of animals are housed in the 
middle, at the Toronto Zoo, wandering around enclosures filled with 
grass and very different weeds than the province's new fare.

York University: Canada's third largest university takes up a large 
portion of the map. Many of its older students would be able to legally 
purchase marijuana once the store opens up, unlike the elementary school 
near the Scarborough location. York is already preparing for the change 
in law, which will make it harder to crack down on students smoking up 
on campus - the university told StarMetro it's working to update its 
policies and practices in time for legalization.

The Etobicoke rail yards and industrial area: The rail yards area in
Etobicoke is certainly growing, but the latest addition has already
sparked political action. New townhomes built near the rail yard have
to come with a noise warning for new owners, according to an agreement
approved by city council late last month. A large chunk of this
"school-free" space is also occupied by the Toronto South Detention
Centre - a maximum-security correctional facility currently housing
alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur - big-box stores, and other industry.

Bridle Path: This is one of the city's richest neighbourhoods, home to 
multimillionaires and mansions. Last year, a French-style chateau 
sprawling over four acres of land in the neighbourhood was put on the 
market for $35 million. It's also been the backdrop to a Toronto police 
investigation, dubbed "Project Bridle Path," probing a 
multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud case.

The Don Valley and Sunnybrook Park: An "empty" plot of land in this area 
has recently been hit by a spotlight, as four teams compete to design a 
livable community on industrial land next to the Don River. But this 
space is also cut through by the Don Valley Parkway, houses ravines and 
parkland, and is home to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Eglinton Town Centre: The mall and its surrounding big-box stores, from 
Walmart to Canadian Tire, take up a chunk of the school-less space in 
its area. Nearby, you'll find a library, grocery stores and car 
dealerships. The planned marijuana shop in Scarborough will be joining 
an existing strip mall, currently home to a pizza joint, a Kumon 
tutoring service, a kids' martial arts studio and a dentist's office.

Downsview Park: Downsview Park was born after the federal government 
announced the closure of the former Canadian Forces Base Toronto in 
1995. It includes forests, ponds, trails, sports fields, play areas and 
gardens. It also has a 485,000-square-foot hangar facility, which offers 
indoor and outdoor fields. The park is a separate entity from the 
Downsview Lands, which include five different neighbourhoods in the 
surrounding area.

CP rail yards: The Canadian Pacific Railway's Agincourt Yard is the
railway's largest marshalling yard. When it opened in 1964, it was
surrounded by farmers' fields. Now, it's surrounding by residential
and commercial development from Middlefield to Agincourt North.
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MAP posted-by: Matt