City council approved first reading to reconsider a land use bylaw amendment to allow for a medical marijuana facility for QE2 Business Park this week.
Last month, council snuffed out a proposal to rezone an area in the QE2 Business Park to allow for the facility. After that initial council meeting, Councillor Paul Harris brought forward a Notice of Motion to reconsider the proposal.
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.
Originally, in the meeting in June, 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 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.
In terms of concerns regarding odour, federal regulations require areas where cannabis is present to have a filtration system. Council heard on Monday the applicants will use a closed loop system, recirculating interior air. City staff indicated this is of higher standard than what is required.
The applicants will also focus on genetic research so there will be fewer flowering plants which produce odour.
Councillors Lynne Mulder, Lawrence Lee and Tanya Handley were absent from Monday’s meeting.
A public hearing will be held on Sept. 12th where the proposal could receive second and third reading.