by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Municipal Council Meeting on June 9 was set to address a zoning amendment for Cannabis Production and Processing Facilities in North Grenville. The recommendation from Director of Planning and Development Amy Martin was to repeal the Interim Control By-Law that has been in place since 2019, and approve and enact a new by-law. The proposed by-law, which is the product of an in-depth study and public consultation, is designed to, “regulate the use of land, buildings and structures within the Municipality of North Grenville, to include definitions and zoning provisions for Cannabis Production & Processing Facilities.” In light of some new questions brought to light by community members, however, this decision was deferred to the June 15 meeting, where it seems likely to be passed.
Developing a framework for the cultivation, production, and processing of cannabis has been an ongoing issue for North Grenville. In 2019, council enacted an interim bylaw restricting the establishment of cannabis facilities. Council did so in order to give staff the opportunity to prepare an in-depth Cannabis Study in relation to land use and municipal planning. In 2020, council extended this interim control by-law to ensure that the Cannabis Study be thorough and comprehensive. In March of this year, the Cannabis Study was made public for comment.
The interim control by-law is set to expire in August 2021, and last week’s meeting was set to hear recommendations .
Director Martin presented her recommendations based on the Cannabis Study, public consultation, and a land use review. Director Martin thoroughly explained the process of developing guidelines that work for North Grenville. She said that the proposed regulations “consider what was common and consistent throughout Ontario, and what, through the public consultation process, works for North Grenville.”
The guidelines are also informed by guidelines from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; The Ministry of the Environment; and the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) on rules for land use planning in Ontario.
United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Official Plan (COP) provides a high-level legal framework encouraging municipalities to keep a range of economic developments, promote normal farm practices and protect the right to farm, and encourage the location of more industrial economic lands along the Highway 416 corridor.
Director Martin noted common public concerns included: clarity of definitions, clear distinction between large scale plants and micro-processing facilities, a desire for stringent setbacks, and concerns about odours. Her report seems to have taken each of these concerns to heart.
She specified that attached to the report is a list of definitions, as requested by members of the public, clarifying the exact legal definitions of key words.
Cannabis Productions and Processing Facilities, Cannabis Micro-Processing/Cultivation, and Nurseries are to be permitted in Economic Enterprise zones. The proposed zoning regulations for such cannabis facilities requires large indoor facilities to keep their activities indoors, to be located at least 150 meters from sensitive land use if equipped with air treatment control, or to be located 300 meters from sensitive land use if not equipped with air treatment control, and that the establishment of all such facilities be subject to Site Plan Control (landscaping, lighting, buffering, etc).
For micro production and cultivation, as well as cannabis nurseries, Director Martin recommended the same provisions as above, as well as minimum lot areas of 4,000 square metres, maximum facility sizes of 200 square metres, and the equipment of air treatment systems such that odours are undetectable beyond the establishment’s property line.
Luc Poulin, member of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), was in attendance of the meeting on June 9. In Director Martin’s recommendations, schools, defined as a sensitive lands, would require a 150 meter setback from any cannabis facilities. Mr. Poulin requested that this setback be increased for schools in particular, suggesting a 1.5 kilometre setback instead.
There are no schools currently in or near the areas that are zoned under Economic Enterprise, Agriculture 1, or Agriculture 2, and thus the 1.5 km setback requested by Mr. Poulin is unlikely to come into play. Nonetheless, Council and Director Martin agreed to review the proposed amendment for cannabis facilities in light of the request for a larger setback near schools. On June 15, council will revisit the issue in its public meeting.
Councillor John Barclay stated, “It’s been a long time coming, but I think what we’re left with is giving businesses who are looking to establish production and processing facilities here in North Grenville a lot of clarity about what we would be looking for should they choose to set up business here.”
For more information on the Cannabis study visit ww.northgrenville.ca/live/community-involvement/cannabis