Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Teviah Moro
Page: A6


A burgeoning pot-growing industry stands to steamroll prime farmland
in Hamilton if the city isn't prepared to fend it off, Coun. Lloyd
Ferguson warns.

"This scares the living daylights out of me," the Ancaster councillor
said during Tuesday's planning committee meeting.

Ferguson, who's not on the committee, attended to ask planning staff
whether the official plan and zoning regulations barred such
entrepreneurs from setting up operations larger than 2,000 square
metres. He said one applicant wants to set up a 200-acre facility in
concrete bunkers on Greenbelt land, undercutting the purpose of the
agricultural and wooded buffer zone. Ferguson said "there's a clear
difference" between growing cucumbers and cultivating marijuana for

Chief planner Steve Robichaud said staff has no intention to amend the
bylaw to allow medical or recreational marijuana "megafacilities" to
set up large operations on agricultural land.

However, "internally," the planning division is trying to "better
understand" how expected regulations from upper levels of government
regarding marijuana production will affect municipal policy.

Coun. Brenda Johnson said large grow-ops suck electricity, dry up
wells and pose security concerns in the countryside while Coun. Judi
Partridge called them "industrial operations" that should be in urban

Coun. Matthew Green agreed the potential for Hamilton's rural tracts
to be overrun by big pot farms looms, but he said the city should also
try to snag its piece of the industry's economic benefits.

"This is going to be huge and this is going to be the largest cash
crop the city has seen for a very long time."
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