Municipal staff have made a recommendation to council that they put in place an interim control by-law to suspend the establishment or expansion of cannabis production facilities in the Municipality for one year.
According to the staff report, interim control by-laws have been used by other municipalities in Ontario as they grapple with regulating cannabis facilities. “There are no regulations in the zoning by-law for cannabis facilities,” says North Grenville Director of Planning and Development, Phil Gerrard.
Phil says that the interim by-law would give staff a year to complete a study of best planning practices, and make relevant provisions to the Municipality’s zoning by law, to take into consideration the unique challenges posed by cannabis production facilities. This includes addressing neighbourhood compatibility, setbacks from residences, and any federal/provincial regulations that don’t accord with current municipal by-laws. If they are not done in one year, there is the possibility of an extension, keeping the by-law in place for a maximum of 24 months.
Currently, there is only one cannabis production facility in North Grenville that will be affected if this by-law is put in place. Fleurish Cannabis has been a producer in the Municipality since late 2018, but they have owned the land on County Road 20, just outside Kemptville, since 2014. Since they started production, they have had several complaints from neighbours about issues such as lights, noise, and odour coming from the facility. However, CEO of Fleurish Cannabis, Michael Smith, says they have been working with residents and the municipality to address these issues. “Everyone who lives here is very reasonable,” Michael says. “We have resolved all the issues.”
Michael says that, should this interim control by-law be put in place, it would seriously limit his business. Fleurish is a new company in an ever-changing industry, and they have to be able to morph and grow in order to remain viable. As a health company, they are looking at getting into vaping and edibles, once they become legal in the Fall. This means buying new equipment and getting new permits, something that would not be allowed under the interim control by-law. “There is a fairness argument,” Michael says, adding that the Municipality knew about their plans for expansion from the beginning. “If you invite a business into a community, I am not sure it’s fair to change your mind.”
Michael says Fleurish wants to become a respected name in the community. With their planned expansion, they are hoping to provide jobs to local people and contribute to the local economy. “We are building a world-class female-focused cannabis company,” he says. “[The proposed by-law] is not good for my business, not good for employment, and not good for the Municipality.”
Phil says there is an application in for a second cannabis facility in the Municipality, and they get at least one inquiry a week to establish more. “We want to put the brakes on and put our planning documents in order,” Phil says. “It will have a big impact for development and Council understands that.”
Because of this, Council decided to take some time to meet with residents and Fleurish Cannabis, rather than voting on the recommendation at the last Council meeting. Further discussion of the by-law will take place at one of the Committee of the Whole meetings in August, with the recommendation coming back to Council for a decision at the meeting of August 27.