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Council balancing new bylaw to respect cannabis operators ‘doing it right’

Council has asked municipal staff to revise a proposed bylaw to consider less restrictive standards for cannabis producers who are already regulated by Health Canada licencing.

The change, noted councillors Ernie Margetson and Phil St.-Jean, would allow those production facilities that “are doing it right” to continue, whereas they may otherwise would not meet new setback proposals.

An interim bylaw stopping any new or expanding operations remains in place.

Councillor Janice Maynard agreed, noting the focus of council’s intent to bring a bylaw forward was to bring control and regulations to certificate holder operations as opposed to already heavily regulated Health Canada licence holders.

Planner James Griffin presented the report to Committee of the Whole Thursday with proposals to regulate the use and the location of buildings and structures in the County to promote good planning.

The revision regarding Health Canada licencees would be among proposed amendments brought to council July 13:

• A definition for cannabis
• A definition for cannabis production and processing facility to properly define that all types of cannabis growing beyond the currently permitted four plants per household
• A definition for air treatment to properly define odour controls
• Specific zones that cannabis production and processing facilities are permitted to be within
• A 500 m setback for cannabis production with air treatment in rural and industrial zones from sensitive use zones boundaries and/or lot line
• A 1000 m setback for cannabis production without air treatment in rural and industrial zones from sensitive use zone boundaries and/or lot line.
• Defining the required separation setback be measured from the cannabis facility to either the sensitive use zone boundary or the lot line boundary, whichever is closer.
• Specificity for security buildings size and location
• A requirement that all operations to be either within a fence yard or a wholly enclosed building.
• A requirement that all cannabis production and processing facilities to enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement
• A prohibition on outdoor cannabis growth permitted in settlement areas.
• A prohibition on the use of pest control product unless the product is registered for use on cannabis under the Federal Pest Control Products Act or is otherwise authorized for use under that Act.
• A prohibition on cannabis production and processing within a dwelling unit
• Restricting outdoor storage of any material associated with a cannabis production and processing facility

Griffin stated the proposed approach would require proponents of cannabis production operations to apply for a zoning and site plan approval, and this would involve the standard planning fees associated with those applications. The cost recovery bylaw proposed, he said, would allow multiple departments to recoup costs associated with illegal cannabis production and processing facilities.

Later, cost recovery options could be proposed to recover municipal costs associated with clandestine drug operations such as illegal cannabis grow operations.

Griffen’s report noted this past summer there were a number of raids on cannabis grow operations in the County. Though the raids were undertaken by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), many municipal services were associated with the raids – including building, bylaw and fire services. The operations department assisted in the removal and disposal of the cannabis that was removed from subject properties. The operations department estimates that it costs approximately $5,600 a day to assist with the remediation of an illegal cannabis grow operation.

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