Pubdate: Thu, 16 Apr 2015
Source: Aurora Banner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: Metroland 2015


THE ISSUE: Aurora considers whether or not medical marijuana
production facility fits in its future plans.

There's an opportunity growing in Canada's health care industry, and
municipalities would be wise to get on board while it's still sprouting.

Aurora council has a chance to do so, as it is considering a staff
recommendation to amend the town's zoning bylaw to establish where a
medical marijuana production facility could be located.

A producer approached the town last spring asking if such a facility
would be permitted on land zoned industrial. Council prohibited using
the land for that purpose at the time, but ordered staff to study what
an appropriate location for such a facility would be.

The results of the study will be discussed at public information
meetings in the months ahead and the report was already presented at a
public planning meeting.

Two sites along Hwy. 404 are being considered, both at least 150
metres from homes or schools.

Using the local zoning bylaw to establish the exact parameters for
where a marijuana production facility can be located is an excellent
idea, as it ensures such a facility will only be located where the
town deems appropriate.

A medical marijuana production facility located in an industrial area
would be a boon for any community. A facility in Smiths Falls created
about 100 jobs, while another one proposed for Owen Sound could do the
same. Of course, like any business, a marijuana production facility
would also contribute much-needed commercial property taxes.

East Gwillimbury council is also considering how to handle this issue
and has implemented an interim bylaw prohibiting marijuana production
facilities until staff has time to study the matter.

While the interim bylaw is a wise decision to ensure council has
control over the issue, all York Region municipal councils should
order studies be done as quickly as possible, as the medical marijuana
industry is budding rapidly.

Health Canada figures show that by the end of 2013, nearly 38,000
people in Canada were authorized to possess dried marijuana and by
2024, that number is projected to grow to more than 400,000.

That is a massive opportunity for all municipalities, not the least of
which are those in northern York Region. Newmarket, for example, saw
only 570 new jobs created over the last five years and could certainly
benefit from being on the forefront of a rapidly expanding industry.

Marijuana still carries a stigma in many people's minds, but it is a
perfectly legal product when prescribed for medical use.
Municipalities could enact regulations requiring production facilities
to look like any other factory on the outside to allay the fears of
anyone concerned about a possible negative influence on the community.

Health care and pharmaceutical sector jobs are highly coveted by most
communities and medical marijuana should be no different.

Northern York Region municipalities should plant seeds for the
industry now before the opportunity goes up in smoke.

BOTTOM LINE: York's northern municipalities should work to get into
potentially lucrative industry.
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MAP posted-by: Matt