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Stoney Creek pot shop plans to open beside daycare

A Stoney Creek cannabis store is planning to open next door to a Hwy. 8 daycare centre, and there’s nothing its upset neighbour or the city can do to stop it because the location meets Ontario’s regulations.

“It’s mind-boggling where these idiots think they can just pop up and put a pot shop,” said George Campanaro, owner of the 440 Hwy. 8 building where children have attended his wife’s Sunshine and Rainbows Christian Day Care Centre since 2003.

The source of his ire, the proposed Uncle Herbs Cannabis shop, is just beyond his property-line fence in the former The Spot Restaurant and Lounge, located in a tiny strip plaza at 438 Hwy. 8.

The shop’s licence application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is in the final stage of getting approval after having passed the public-comment phase Jan. 26.

Campanaro said he and his wife are worried about a repeat of the problems they had with an illegal dispensary in same plaza, the Peach Tree CBD Boutique, whose customers parked in their lot and even on the lawn.

“They have no parking,” he said of the proposed Uncle Herbs shop. “Where are the customers going to park? In my daycare.”

Coun. Maria Pearson, who represents the area, said she shares Campanaro’s concerns and voiced her objections in comments the city submitted to the AGCO on the licence application in December.

“I really don’t believe that’s a good thing to have next to a daycare,” Pearson said. “When I had the previous illegal operation there, there was nothing but trouble,” she said.

“I know they say they’re operating differently — it’s just, not next to a daycare.”

Pearson said she also opposes an application for a cannabis store just down the road — the Cabbage Brothers at Spartan Plaza at 483 Hwy. 8 — because of its proximity to Orchard Park and St. Clare of Assisi schools. Related contentWhat’s going on at Stoney Creek’s former The Spot eatery?

The city recommends a 300-metre separation from schools and daycares, but the province sets the rules and only requires shops be at least 150 metres away from schools. Orchard Park and St. Clare of Assisi are beyond the latter distance.

“We got so strict on cigarettes they can’t even see a package of cigarettes in a variety store, and here we can have these blatantly all over the place,” Pearson said. “I just don’t get it.”

The Stoney Creek News was unable to contact Uncle Herbs Cannabis because it has no website, and the AGCO only makes public the name of a proposed store and its address.

AGCO spokesperson Raymond Kahnert said provincial regulations allow cannabis shops to be located anywhere retail stores are permitted, unless within 150 metres of a school or a municipality opts out of allowing any pot shops.

“The AGCO has no authority or control over store locations,” he said via email. “That decision and the local research on store locations is up to the applicant.”

Kahnert said the AGCO has rejected five store applications in Ontario so far, all because they didn’t meet the 150-metre separation from schools.

The commission previously reported that Ontario had 430 open stores as of Feb. 16, and that it intended to approve 30 per week to deal with 940 applications in the queue.

Ontario’s Cannabis Licence Act requires the AGCO to consider three things when ruling on an application: protecting public health and safety; protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis; and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.

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