by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Municipal Council has approved new bylaws to regulate the establishment or expansion of cannabis production and processing facilities in North Grenville.
Following the public meeting of June 9, at which council directed staff to further research a number of areas of concern, the proposed bylaws have been passed with no changes.
Director of Planning and Development Amy Martin says that, in light of these concerns, planning staff “reviewed other Municipal Zoning By-laws to determine what the best practices were for distances from schools and fencing requirements.”
At the meeting on June 9, Luc Poulin, a member of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) requested that a 1.5 km setback from schools be considered in the development of bylaws for North Grenville.
At last week’s meeting, Director Martin said, “Of the Municipalities reviewed as part of the study, there were no additional setback requirements as great as 1.5 kms from a school.”
Effectively, schools will count as sensitive lands, and require a 150 meter setback. However, this setback is unlikely to come into effect, since the new bylaws allow cannabis facilities only within the Economic Enterprise lands, in which there are no schools.
In the future, should someone wish to build cannabis facility outside of lands built as Economic Enterprise lands, they would, “be required to undergo a development application to permit the use.” At which point, the presence of schools would be considered.
Luc, and members of council, had also voiced concerns about minimum fence heights. Upon review, Director Martin stated that “a higher fence height would be permitted, and the proposed provisions would not restrict fencing height to 1.2 metres.”
On July 14, Mayor Nancy Peckford voiced concern about the possibility of North Grenville’s existing facility eventually wishing to expand under the new guidelines. “We’re setting the standard for existing expansions, not just new facilities. I would be more comfortable with a slightly larger buffer.”
Director Martin explained that while “non-conforming uses” allow existing facilities to remain in use in spite of bylaw changes, any future expansion will be subject to new provisions.
Particularly concerned about odours, Mayor Peckford still felt this could leave room for unwanted expansion, and proposed a 200 metre setback from sensitive land uses for any future facility, or expansion of an existing facility.
Though Health Canada has adopted strident national guidelines for odour control at cannabis facilities, Mayor Peckford wondered how often these guidelines will be adhered to.
To this point, Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman questioned the difference between 150 and 200 meters: “It may make a difference for development, but for odour, I don’t think it’s going to help.” The bylaw has been passed with the original 150 metre setback.