Council reconsiders medical marijuana facility; tables issue for up to six weeks

  • Jul. 20, 2016 3:33 p.m.

City council tabled a Notice of Motion that Councillor Paul Harris had brought forward to reconsider a land use bylaw amendment to allow for a medical marijuana facility for QE2 Business Park this past week.

Earlier this month, council snuffed out a proposal to rezone an area in the QE2 Business Park to allow for the 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 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.

Councillor Lawrence Lee said he was in support of the reconsideration motion given the context of the questions that were asked prior to going into the meeting.

“I think it exemplifies and illustrates the necessity of basing council’s decisions on informed and up to date information,” he said, adding he does not believe council was given all the information necessary to make an informed decision.

“That’s important, and I think the intention was there. But it didn’t translate into the appropriate decision of the last meeting.

“To give further context to my council colleagues, it would certainly be my intention once this Notice of Motion is voted upon, if it does succeed, I would introduce a motion to table at that point to allow administration to address those questions and bring forward that information,” he said, adding this would allow an appropriate time frame to allow council to have administration garner that information and bring it forward.

Councillor Buck Buchanan said he was very much in favour of the tabling motion at the last meeting.

“I was one of the folks at the last meeting that felt there were things that were unanswered for me,” he said.

“There were assumptions made around the table and those assumptions kind of got shot down in a burning, flaming wreck as far as I was concerned,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the facility as far as I was concerned, it had everything to do with the zoning.”

This past Monday, council voted 5-3 in favour of reconsidering the Notice of Motion but ultimately the issue was tabled for up to six weeks in order for administration to bring back further information.

Originally, in the meeting earlier this month, 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. She did the same at this past week’s meeting as well.

Council had also 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.

– with files from Erin Fawcett