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Approval of revisions repeal interim cannabis control bylaw

Council is being asked to repeal its interim cannabis control bylaw as draft revisions to regulate production and processing are to be presented at Tuesday night’s meeting. UPDATE: Approved.

An interim bylaw was passed last September due to land use conflicts and increased concern of growing operations thoughout the municipality. It put a freeze on new or expanding production and processing.

Draft bylaws have come before council in March and June this year and were sent back for further consultation. In June, council asked staff for revisions to consider less restrictive standards for cannabis producers who are already regulated by Health Canada licencing. The concern was for production facilities that “are doing it right” to continue, whereas they may otherwise not meet new setback proposals.

Councillors were also concerned some sensitive land uses and zones were not considered in the draft bylaw. The setbacks of 1000m and 500m presented in March were considered to be restrictive while also having the ability to sterilize the entire county from the use.

The draft Tuesday adds Future Development Zone (FD), arenas, hospitals and public parks to the sensitive uses to be setback from cannabis production and processing facilities: a 70m setback for production with air treatment in industrial zones; a 150m setback with air treatment in rural zones and a 500m setback without air treatment in rural and industrial zones.

“Going back to the originally proposed setbacks are consistent with municipalities throughout the province and create proper separations of sensitive uses from the different levels of federally-regulated cannabis production and processing facilities,” states James Griffin, County planner, in his report. “Any facility that is currently licensed and existing would be considered legal non-conforming and would not need to comply with these setbacks, or any other provision in the proposed amendment, unless they were to expand.”

Griffin noted that should a facility wish to expand but cannot meet setbacks, two options are available: minor expansion application through the Committee of Adjustment and application for a zoning bylaw amendment.

Griffin states staff recommend the bylaw cover all Health Canada Licenses as well as certificates which are not as regulated “to ensure regulations apply to a use as a whole, and not one specific group of users.”

In their recommendations, staff included two other options for council to consider, including the creation of a municipal licensing program to regulate operations. That, the report states, would require either building and bylaw, or fire and rescue to manage the program.

“The possible benefits would be that the fire department would have an opportunity to complete an interior inspection of the site to ensure the fire code is being adhered to. However, this would be resource intensive and would require sufficient program design detail to address all of the site-specific issues of a particular site. For these reasons, and the experience of other municipalities who have addressed similar issues in their communities, a zoning approach was preferred.”

A second option reviewed an Anti-Fortification bylaw which discourages and prohibits excessive fortification of cannabis facilities as well as any other lands in the County.

“The bylaw would prohibit and regulate the fortification of land by physical strengthening and protective elements like reinforced walls/secondary walls, bullet proof glass, armour plated doors amongst other structures to fortify any lands or buildings. At the moment, an anti-fortification bylaw is not proposed as site plan control will allow the County to ensure cannabis production and processing facilities are not fortified.”

The report notes excessive fortification of land poses a serious risk to the health, safety and welfare of emergency service personnel and law enforcement officials. Fortification is also a threat to the safety and integrity of adjacent properties as well as the owners and occupants of those properties that abut fortified lands.

As part of the policy review, staff attended a one day conference hosted by Dale Moore, an Ontario Fire Marshall who specializes in illegal cannabis growth operations. Staff also reached out to three other municipalities, the police board, fire department and Quinte Conservation. A survey was also conducted in April on the County’s website.

 

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