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Interim bylaw to control pot production in the County

UPDATE: Councillors were in favor of the interim control bylaw, with a staff report to come before council, with details, for approval at its Sept. 22 meeting.

At Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, council looked at approving an interim control bylaw that temporarily prohibits new or expanding cannabis production facilities in the County for one year, while a land use planning study is completed.

The bylaw does not apply to the cultivation of up to four plants on any property for personal consumption, or to the sale of cannabis and products under a retail operator licence.

Recent inquiries and concerns have lead to the interim control bylaw, including residents who have expressed concern about odours from a licenced operation on County Road 28, in a former greenhouse.

Ken Dehaan, in a comment to committee, noted everybody knows the smell of a dead skunk, and stated as the next door neighbour, he is 150 feet from the smell of 2,000 dead skunks day and night.

“When I come home, within 15 minutes I have a headache. The smell permeates everything. Our community in Fenwood Gardens is inundated with odours. I would not want to wish this upon anybody,” he said.  “I have spoken to Health Canada and I have put in complaints. They can’t even tell me how this is affecting our health. Trying to find a health inspector dealing with cannabis seems harder than finding a unicorn.”

Dehaan stated he’s the former owner of the greenhouse and says the operation “popped up out of nowhere” and doesn’t seem to be following Health Canada guidelines. He added the police force requires municipal bylaws to enforce rules.

Dehaan hopes to see minimum setback rules, such as for large pig farm operations, of at least 800 metres from any other residence.

“In recent months there have been over 30 inquiries regarding the ability to grow cannabis in Prince Edward County,” said James Griffin, planner, in his report to council. “There have also been bylaw related complaints related to odour and security concerns of current cannabis production facilities.”

The interim control bylaw refers to ‘cannabis production’ – any land, building or structure used for growing, producing, cultivation, processing, testing, destroying, storing, packaging and shipping of cannabis, licenced by Health Canada under the Cannabis Act.

In, 2018 the Federal Cannabis Act came into effect which legalized cannabis production. The licensing of cannabis production facilities is the responsibility of the federal government. Municipalities can regulate these facilities through zoning and site plan control.

The County zoning bylaw does not currently have policies to properly regulate cannabis production – no formal definition, standards, or dedicated permitted use.

County staff have reviewed zoning policies around cannabis production been enacted in several Ontario municipalities.

“In a review of the current municipalities with interim control by-laws, staff found a few similarities. The first being the majority of the municipalities are rural townships where inquiries for cannabis production facilities are aimed for rural areas,” said Griffin. “The common goal is for the municipality to review policy and bring forth land use policies and regulations to mitigate any negative impacts that could be created by cannabis production facilities.”

Cannabis production facilities that currently legally exist will be permitted to continue should the bylaw pass. However, existing facilities will not be permitted to expand.

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