Vancouver School trustee presses for bigger buffer zone between pot shops and schools

Pot shops, schools, and the distance between the two will be on the agenda Monday evening when the Vancouver School Board meets.

Fraser Ballantyne says he'd like to see the buffer zone increased from 300 to 500 metres

The Vancouver School Board will discuss asking for a bigger bubble between schools and pot dispensaries. (CBC)

Pot shops, schools, and the distance between the two will be on the agenda Monday evening when the Vancouver School Board meets.

Current zoning require medical marijuana dispensaries to be at least 300 metres from schools and community centres, but school board member Fraser Ballantyne says he'd like to see the buffer increased to 500 metres. 

"I'm just saying that ... maybe we need to have a conversation and embrace the community a little bit more about where they should be," said Ballantyne.

VSB trustee Fraser Ballantyne is questioning whether medical marijuana dispensaries belong on main streets. (VSB)

Ballantyne says he was prompted to revisit the 500 meter buffer zone after receiving a letter from a business in the Kingsway corridor concerned that a marijuana dispensary was set to open beside a popular martial arts gym.

"I hadn't thought of it before but our kids are going places in our community after school," said Ballantyne.

Ballantyne says by putting forward the recommendation he's hoping to expand the conversation around the placement of marijuana dispensaries.

He'd also like the city to consider if dispensaries belong on prominent thoroughfares.

"Let's look what other jurisdictions have done," he said. "I looked at Aspen — they considered this when they legalized marijuana down there. They decided ... as a family-friendly community resort, instead of putting them on the main drag they moved them back a street or two."

"We have other clinics ... discreetly integrate into our community because of the sensitivity of things. And I think that's where we should be going. "

Ballantyne says he supports the legalization of marijuana but wants the city to slow down its move to license marijuana storefronts until there's a national regulatory framework in place. 

"That could take up to two years to develop and so let's press the pause button on all development," said Ballantyne.

"It's an illegal activity right now. We know it's going to get [regulated] at some point. What's the hurry? Let's look after our kids ... and not have them confronting or walking into stores right next door to their afterschool activities." 

With files from Chantelle Bellrichard


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