By Justin Seward
Cypress County Deputy Reeve Richard Oster, Reeve Dan Hamilton and planning supervisor Jeffrey Dowling visited with three greenhouse owners recently who are interested in growing cannabis in their facilities and brought forth the opportunistic idea to council at its Dec. 4 meeting.
The proposal is to amend Bylaw 2018/04 with the new cannabis regulations so the interested greenhouse owners can grow cannabis.
The bylaw regulates licensed cannabis production facilities to operate only in hamlet industrial districts, light industrial districts or industrial districts. The requirement distance is a minimum separation of 100 metres (328 metres) measured from the property line of the cannabis operation to the wall of the closest resident. However the bylaw’s greenhouse definition does not include cannabis production.
Now a greenhouse operator would be required to reclassify their property to light industrial or an industrial district before the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC). The MPC will then issue a development permit to allow cannabis production as a Class 2 discretionary use.
Oster explained to council that the county set their standards too high with not knowing what was going to be involved with a production facility for cannabis.
“We realized that because of the controls that Health Canada has in place, we probably won’t even know the difference, if there is tomatos being grown in there or if there is cannabis,” said Oster.
“And other then some extra fencing and security, it’s definitely not going to be a big deal.”
Coun. Ernest Mudie was not sold on the economic impact that the cannabis growing in greenhouses may bring.
“I don’t know where all the big economic development comes from because these things are agriculture and they get taxed the same rate as if they’re growing cucumbers,” said Mudie.
Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit said with industry so “under-established,” in the delivery gives local producers the opportunity to make a building that is already there and have in operation in short order.
“That means there will be a premium on the buildings which will likely be sold to larger companies. That will then hire local companies to upgrade and do construction and to employ,” said Kurpjuweit.
“All of those things are undeniable as far as positive impacts on the community. Just to be open-minded to that is a good thing.”
Kurpjuweit put the motion forward for council to direct council to bring back amendments to Bylaw 2018/04, Land-use Bylaw, specific to accommodating cannabis production for greenhouse operations.
Oster put forth another motion for council to allow a delegation of greenhouse operators to come to council’s Dec. 18 meeting to speak on cannabis production.
Both motions were passed.