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Council holds off zoning decision for 'cannabis micro-cultivation facility'

Posted January 29, 2020

New Tecumseth council deferred voting on a site specific zoning bylaw amendment to permit a cannabis micro-cultivation facility to operate at 5776 11th Line.

The proposed bylaw defines "Cannabis Micro-Cultivation Facility" as a "building or structure used for cannabis cultivation authorized by a micro-cultivation license issued by the federal Minister of Health, under the Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018, c. 16, as amended from time to time.

The subject property, located within a prime agricultural area, is approximately 1.32 hectares (3.26 acres). It includes a detached home and accessory structure, surrounded by agricultural and some rural residential neighbours.

The licenced growing operation will be located within the existing farm building cluster, within a 754 square meter (9,117 square feet) building.

"It is appropriately buffered from the public realm through appropriate setbacks and security fencing," according to the planning report to council. "Given the rural character of the immediate area, the proposed cannabis micro-cultivation facility is an appropriate use of the property and is compatible with adjacent land uses. As such, the proposed application conforms to the approved regulations for licensed cannabis microcultivation facilities. ...  As such, staff recommend that the proposed zoning by-law amendment be approved as it represents good planning."

Guy Bonney, a resident on the Third Line told councillors Monday night, reminded councillors they were aware a cannabis grow-op had popped up about three years ago on adjoining properties, suggesting without municipal permits issued.

Mr. Bonney said he's met with Town staff, and other officials and determined "court proceedings are the only way." He said initially "it was just a summer crop" then the "same owner built a new building," and resumed growing year round.

He asked councillors not to approve the 11th Line zoning amendment because "we all fear that the application if approved will set a precedence for all other cannabis operations within the municipality." Mr. Bonney directed instead the grow operations should take place in industrial zoned areas, and the Town's economic development officer should help the proponents with a location.

"No one currently knows the impact on people and property," he said, noting there are no separation controls with neighbouring properties. "Over powering odor upto three km away is strong enough to block out smell of almost all other odors. ... We're having some allergic reactions to the odor... have been to specialists... Last summer family went through the summer smelling only cannabis 24/7. It stinks to high heaven."

Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb said the agricultural ministry (OMAFRA) "feels it's an agricultural crop."

"They haven't had time to research minimum distance separation; has been only livestock until now. Because cannabis has just been legalized, research couldn't be done on illegal crop."

Direction to staff was to contact OMAFRA for further details on the land use.

"We don't have enough information in front of us," said mayor Rick Milne. "Bring back more information before we make a decision."

All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri