City council approved medical marijuana facility

  • Sep. 13, 2016 3:10 p.m.

After much discussion and debate over the last couple of months, City council approved rezoning in Queen’s Business Park to allow for a medical marijuana facility.

An application was received from Medcan Solutions Incorporated to allow for a federally licensed medical marijuana facility to be located at 94 Burnt Park Drive. The property is located in the west QE2 Business Park, west of the QEII Hwy.

The re-zoning application initially went to the City’s municipal planning commission, but in July members deferred the issue to City council. The re-zoning required an amendment to the current I1 Light Industrial Land Use District as this is not a use currently allowed in this district.

The application proposed to use an existing 35,000 sq. ft. vacant building. The proposal was for the medical marijuana facility only with no retail sales, no advertising and no signage permitted in relation to the facility as it is strictly prohibited by federal regulations.

Before the public hearing began, Mayor Tara Veer excused herself from Council Chambers declaring a conflict of interest after the applicant approached her to discuss the matter outside of formal discussions. As well, Councillor Dianne Wyntjes excused herself as she has a relative who owns property near the site who spoke at the public hearing Monday night.

A number of landowners and business owners as well as members of the general public spoke during the public hearing.

Marvin Sandstra, a landowner in the area, spoke against the rezoning.

“It will attract a lot of undesirables trying to break in. I am not opposed to a medical marijuana facility in Red Deer but I am opposed to the location. If council approves this, it will set a precedent for other locations. It will be difficult for council to turn down other locations if this one is approved.”

Allan Fertig, a business owner in the area, also expressed his opposition to the rezoning.

“We have customers from Western Canada, it doesn’t matter if they are cattle farmers from the west country or someone buying a motorhome, some people don’t believe in this. They are going to show up and have to smell odour and I shouldn’t have to explain why there is marijuana odour traveling through my lot,” he said. “It’s embarrassing to hear that Red Deer has the second highest crime rate in Canada, but it is something that has been going on for a long time. My business costs me $50,000 a year in damages and theft. There is no police presence in Queen’s Industrial Park – none, zero.

“Crime out there is so bad they steal the boards off my fence. I don’t think we need to move from the second highest crime rate in Canada to the number one city.

“Crime in Queen’s Industrial Park is rampant and we are not protected.”

In regards to concern of odour, Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services for the City, said if a development order is granted and they are in violation, there will be a stop work order.

Wendy Konschuk, director and co-founder of MedCan Solutions said changes to the original proposal have been made after initially hearing concern from area landowners.

“We’ve revised our original facility design in order to accommodate the I1 zoning and concerns around odour – specifically we will reduce the number of flowering plants dramatically and instead use the majority of the space for pharmaceutical laboratory operations. Our primary production site will be located elsewhere,” she said.

Konschuk added the opportunity to open such a business in Central Alberta came after the building they will be occupying became vacant. “The building owners are investors and they built the building for the oilfield industry but with the crash of the economy, the building has been left vacant.”

Councillor Tanya Handley said the majority of businesses she has heard from are not in favour of the rezoning to allow for a medical marijuana facility.

“These businesses went to this business park knowing what types of business would be allowed in the area and we’ve had several different conversations in the past about spot zoning and site exceptions and their impacts on the area,” she said.

Councillor Lynne Mulder thinks the businesses will benefit from the medical marijuana facility being in the area.

“I heard tonight that there will be no odour and if there is an odour, bang-go, it’s gone,” she said. “That reassures me. We have the right in our bylaw that we can act on that.”

Council voted in favour of the rezoning with Councillors Buck Buchanan, Frank Wong and Handley voting against the motion.