Council denies re-zoning for medical marijuana facility

  • Jul. 6, 2016 2:31 p.m.

Red Deer City council snuffed out a proposal to rezone an area in the QE2 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 last week 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 a presentation was given to council, 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.

Council heard that Mountain View County has an existing medical marijuana facility located north of Cremona in a rural setting. This facility, which is the largest facility in Canada, has been licensed since February 2015. The County has indicated to City administration that no complaints about the facility have been received and no noise or odour has been noticed since it has been in operation.

As well, the Town of Olds approved a medical marijuana facility in July 2015 which is located in a light industrial district, which is similar to the one proposed for Red Deer. The Town has not yet received a development permit application for this facility.

For the facility that was brought forward for Red Deer, the proposed amendment was circulated to landowners within 100 metres of the site. At the time of circulation to adjacent landowners there were two options proposed which included allowing medical marijuana facilities as a discretionary use in I1 Industrial (Business Service) districts. The second option was to allow a medical marijuana facility as a site specific exception.

In response to concerns expressed by adjacent landowners, City administration recommended the site be considered as a site specific exception.

A total of eight written responses were received from neighbouring landowners. Concerns included odour control, security/safety, chemicals/fertilizers, waste disposal, truck traffic, increased criminal activity, decreased property value and increased road maintenance due to traffic.

Council heard that Health Canada would regulate many of these concerns.

Councillor Ken Johnston said he would not support first reading. “I am not resolved on this particular issue. To me we have a proper zoning for enterprises like this,” he said.

Councillor Tanya Handley also did not support first reading. “I’m not fully convinced this is the right type of area for this operation. We have heard from many concerned businesses already. I have very serious concerns about security and odour and nuisances. I’m not fully confident that federal regulations will take care of that,” she said.

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said she would support first reading because she wanted to hear more.

“It’s about moving our community conversation and educating us and having those questions answered,” she said.

Councillor Paul Harris agreed.

“Because I trust our planners and that they have done their research and they wouldn’t be presenting something to us that they haven’t thought through and because it’s a discretionary use and it’s for one site only, I am prepared to support it today. Another reason to let something through to a public hearing is so that we can hear from the public. What does the public think? I want to hear from them.”

Council defeated the motion for the re-zoning. Councillors Buck Buchanan, Frank Wong, Johnston and Handley voted against the re-zoning application. Councillor Lawrence Lee, Lynne Mulder, Harris and Wyntjes voted in favour of the re-zoning.