Buffer zones around youth oriented facilities have been given initial approval as Moose Jaw City Council prepares for the eventual legalization of cannabis in Canada.

No cannabis shop will be allowed within 166m of any school and must stay at least 83m away from parks, daycares, the library or public recreation facilities but there is a small exemption for around Crescent Park where the buffer would be 60m in order to allow a portion of Main Street to be potentially used for a shop.

"We looked at the sensitive types of uses like schools, daycares, parks and libraries, areas where youth are congregating," explained Director of Planning Michelle Sanson. "We want to make sure that we are putting in some separation distances to accommodate those types of places."

If a production facility ever looked to Moose Jaw as a potential home, the grow op would have to be in one of the heavy industrial areas, Grayson Business Park or the new south side industrial park that is still being developed near the sewage lagoons.

During the meeting, Mayor Fraser Tolmie attempted to get Joe's Place Youth Centre added to the list of areas that would have a buffer saying it would be counter productive to the facility if a cannabis shop opened near by. Other councillors questioned the reasoning behind the exemption, asking if the organization had asked for it and Tolmie said it was an idea of his own.

Joe's Place is a local youth centre that focuses on positive lifestyle choices and alternatives to drugs and alcohol. It's located in the heart of downtown Moose Jaw, something the other councillors were concerned with saying if a buffer was applied, a large area of Main Street would be off the list of potential shop locations. The motion was defeated but Councillor Chris Warren pointed out that alterations to the rules could be made before final adoption alter this summer.

Council passed the original motion 6-1 with Mayor Fraser Tolmie voting in opposition.

Meanwhile, the federal government is still waiting for the Senate to make a decision on the proposed legislation that will allow legal cannabis. On Monday, a subcommittee passed 40 amendments to the federal cannabis bill and that will now goes back to the full Senate for more voting. Estimates out of Ottawa now put legalization into the fall with some analysts suggesting it could be next year.


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