Is a proposed West Kelowna pot shop too close to an elementary school?

The inside of British Columbia's first legal cannabis store in Kamloops. The province would like to set up a BC Cannabis Store in West Kelowna. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Should a government cannabis store be set up less than 200 metres from a West Kelowna elementary school?

That issue will be up for discussion at a Central Okanagan School Board meeting on Wednesday, after West Kelowna city council gave its blessing for a proposed BC Cannabis Store near George Pringle Elementary School to move on to the rezoning process.

A school board committee would like to see the board write a “letter of concern” to the city about the proposed pot shop in Westbank Town Centre, a strip mall across the street from the school which already contains a BC Liquor Store.

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The committee estimates the pot shop would be roughly 160 metres from the school, well inside the 500-metre buffer the school board had previously requested around all its schools.

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Last year the board chair wrote to West Kelowna city council asking for cannabis retail to be at least half a kilometre from its schools.

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In that letter, Moyra Baxter noted “a cannabis-free working and learning environment on School District property is required by Provincial law” and that “cannabis products, including edible products, may negatively impact a student’s ability to learn effectively.”

However, in a letter to city council, the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch said “keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors is a top priority” and minors won’t even be able to enter the store with a parent.

READ MORE: West Kelowna city council approves zoning for 5 cannabis shops

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It also promotes the potential economic benefits of the store, which the province said would employ 20 unionized employees.

According to the school district, West Kelowna only requires marijuana shops to be 100 metres from elementary and middle schools and 250 metres from high schools.

On Wednesday, the school district will discuss whether it should take further action on the matter.

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The proposed BC Cannabis Store still needs to go through a civic rezoning process before it can go ahead.

West Kelowna council voted 4-3 in August to allow the province to submit its rezoning application for the store but council could still reject that rezoning application.

Global Okanagan has reached out to West Kelowna’s mayor, the school board chair and the province for comment.

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