Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jan 2014
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Chatham Daily News
Author: Ellwood Shreve


An application for official plan and zoning bylaw amendments 
regarding medical marijuana processing facilities is being rolled 
together for council to consider.

Establishing rules to allow this type of facility to be located in 
Chatham-Kent will be discussed at Monday's combined planning/council 
meeting on Monday.

Rob Brown, planning consultant with Storey Samways Planning Ltd., 
said the proposed amendments will call for each medical marijuana 
processing facility application to be reviewed and zoned separately.

He said this is a change from an original recommendation to have this 
type of facility be a permitted use under the existing general 
industrial zoning.

Brown said because this type of facility involves producing a 
controlled substance that is technically illegal, there are policing 
and fire concerns to take into consideration, as well as ensuring it 
is built in a suitable location, preferably in an industrial area on 
the fringe of an urban centre.

"It's hard to put something in the bylaw that allows you do that 
automatically," he said

Senior planner, Marsha Coyne, said Chatham-Kent reviewed what other 
municipalities are doing with respect to these facilities. She added 
a meeting was also held with the technical advisory committee, which 
includes police, fire, engineering and public works, along with 
consulting the public to set criteria in the official plan to help 
guide councillors in their decision making.

"We indicated that we'd like some buffers from facilities that we 
felt were more of a sensitive nature," she said.

These include residential and institutional facilities, such as 
schools and churches, along with parks and recreation areas, she added

Brown said there hasn't been "any form of negative feedback."

He noted Health Canada's new Marihuana for Medical Purposes 
Regulations address many issues that would be of concern.

About 90% of the official plan and zoning bylaw amendments proposed 
relied on the regulations that are already in place by Health Canada, 
Brown said.

"The other 10% is really us looking at what is an appropriate 
location," he added.

Brown believes if you read between the lines of Health Canada's 
regulations, the agency seems willing to respect municipalities' 
input in terms of where they would like to see these facilities go.

But, he also believes if there is a lot of "push back" to these 
facilities - using the many strong objections by municipalities to 
industrial turbines as an example - there's a chance the government 
could take over the whole approval process.

Monday's meeting also includes a zoning bylaw amendment application 
from an Ontario numbered company to allow for a medical marijuana 
production facility to be constructed on Longwoods Road.

While there has been interest in Chatham-Kent and Essex, the same 
can't be said for the Sarnia-Lambton area.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, who also chairs the Sarnia-Lambton 
Economic Partnership, said the idea of licensed grow operations has 
been mentioned in the community in recent months, but no firm 
proposals have surfaced.

"It has been more suggestions, I would say, than real interest," he said.

A Health Canada official said it has received more than 380 
applications for licences, but only three have been approved and 
posted on the federal agency's website, so far.

They include two in the Toronto area, plus one in Saskatchewan by the 
same company that has been growing medical marijuana for Health 
Canada's own distribution system. That soon-to-end federal system 
supplies roughly 4,000 of the approximately 37,000 people in the 
country authorized to possess marijuana for medical purposes.

Mayor Randy Hope said there are four or five proposals for licensed 
grow operations in Chatham-Kent, adding it is potential investment 
officials welcome.

"It is a business opportunity, especially here in Chatham-Kent," 
because of how "agriculturally diversified" the community is, Hope said.

Hope added he doesn't believe medical marijuana is a controversial 
issue, today.

"From an enforcement point of view, it's much better if it's 
institutionalized," he said.

- - With files from Paul Morden, QMI Agency
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom