Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2015
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Page: A2
Copyright: 2015, Barrie Examiner
Author: Miriam King


Neighbours Would Get Their Say Prior To Town Approving Any Proposed
Medical Marijuana Facilities

INNISFIL - Neighbours of any proposed medical marijuana production
facilities in Innisfil could have their say prior to any approvals,
councillors heard earlier this week.

Innisfil council received a background study Wednesday night on
medical marijuana production facilities. Last year, news that an
application had been filed for a medical marijuana production facility
near Cookstown brought residents out to a special public meeting on
Sept. 4.

During the meeting, some resident s expressed concern about health and
safety aspects around such a facility, as well as security.

The federal government licences the approved facilities but
municipalities control the location of production through the zoning
and site plan processes. The regulations also require security and
monitoring, no outdoor signage or advertising, and a fully-contained
operation that will ensure protection of the environment.

But there is no requirement for public consultation.

The town plans to address that by providing notice of applications to
property owners within 120 metres of a proposed site, and the
opportunity to comment through the site plan application process when
notified of an application.

Acting manager of land use planning, Don Eastwood, said the public
will have opportunities to comment on the proposed town policy before
it is adopted in March. There will be a public open house on Thursday,
Jan. 29 from 6: 30 p. m. to 8 p. m. at the Innisfil Town Hall, and a
public meeting on Feb. 18 to ensure public input is received.

The background study notes the production of medical marijuana is
expected to become a billion-dollar industry within a decade, as use
is projected to grow from the 40,000 current users to 450,000. It was
that growth - and concerns over security and safety of user-grown
operations - that led the federal government to bring in new changes
to the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations 2001 that took
effect on April 1, 2014.

All production facilities must now be federally licensed, and cannot
be located in private homes, although that restriction is being
challenged in the courts. So far, Health Canada has issued 13 licences
- - five in Ontario - and is assessing another 1,000

Municipalities can't prohibit licensing, but can restrict locations,
through their by-laws.

"Since the town's existing land use policies and provisions do not
specifically address commercial medical marijuana facilities, it is
therefore important that zoning provisions be established to
appropriately regulate their siting within the town," the study states.

In accordance with federal regulations, the town is looking at
restricting medical marijuana production to larger-scale commercial
manufacturing facilities that can provide the high level of security
and monitoring required, and adequate water and electricity resources.

The town is proposing the facilities be located only in areas zoned
general industrial and industrial business park.

The facilities are required to be entirely indoor operations and since
they can take up to 350,000 square-feet in space, they will require
shipping and transportation facilities. They are licensed for only one
year at a time.

"The loss of farmland for medical marijuana production facilities can
therefore be considered inconsistent with policy objectives that
recognize farmland as a scarce resource," the study states.

Although the marijuana is grown, the report notes, it is also
processed, tested, packaged, stored and destroyed, and therefore falls
under the definition of a manufacturing use.

It's an approach taken by the majority of Ontario municipalities,
although some, like Clearview Township and Chatham- Kent, also permit
production facilities in agricultural areas.

Other recommendations in the report call for a minimum 70- metre
separation from residential zones and the property lines of sensitive
uses that include schools and daycares, parks and community centres. A
100- metre separation from residences in agricultural zones, based on
Ministry of the Environment guidelines, is also recommended.

Some municipalities, like New Tecumseth, have no minimum separation.
Others have attempted to establish a separation distance of greater
than 70 meters and have faced challenges to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Deputy Mayor Lynn Dollin also suggested contacting other
municipalities that have accommodated licensed production facilities
to hear "what's working, what's not working - to learn from other
people who actually have these facilities in their

Dollin also suggested the town hear from those who want medical
marijuana production classified as agricultural, including the Ontario
Federation of Agriculture.

"They're still arguing the fact that it's agricultural, not
industrial," she said.

Council accepted the report and passed an interim control bylaw while
staff work on a town-wide policy and land use regulations. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D