Wynne says safety remains her top concern as the province rolls out a chain of cannabis stores to sell and distribute recreational marijuana, which will become legal July 1.
The premier says she will ask her staff about the decision-making process and whether the school board was involved.
The first four locations announced Wednesday include an address in east Toronto that is close to at least one school, drawing concerns from the association representing Ontario’s public school boards.
The Ontario Public School Boards Association says it is worried about having pot shops too close to schools and that school boards must be consulted.
It says that while some boards that have schools near the four locations may have been consulted, the site selection process itself isn’t clear and that needs to change.
Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute marijuana after the federal government announced it would legalize recreational pot by this summer.
LISTEN: Brian Patterson from the Ontario Safety League weighs in
The province plans to set up a total of roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020, with the first 40 set to open this year.
The stores will be run by a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the legal age to buy marijuana will be set at 19, the same as for alcohol and cigarettes.
The agency has said store locations would comply with local zoning rules, minimize proximity to schools and factor in where illegal dispensaries are currently operating.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Thursday there are ongoing discussions with municipalities and other stakeholders about the placement of the stores, but noted that finding appropriate locations is more difficult in cities due to density.
“In certain urban communities it’s difficult to have that degree of separation,” Sousa said. What’s more, he said, “in some of these locations we have illegal dispensaries so we want to combat them.”
New Democrat Peter Tabuns said there’s no indication, however, that the government’s plan will help tackle the black market.
“I don’t think they’re going to have enough outlets to actually provide an alternative to people,” he said.