Wellington North councillor unsure cannabis zoning leaves enough room
June 21, 2023 By Local Journalism Initiative
By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Wellington North — Permanent regulations are now in place to dictate how and where businesses can now grow and process cannabis in Wellington North.
Updating and introducing new zoning regulations for cannabis-related uses in the township, the recent amendment allows outdoor growth of cannabis on agricultural properties within a certain size, while indoor grow-ops are subject to further approval.
“(Planning staff) recommend for the township to continue to monitor cannabis-related legislation and best practices for the growing and production of cannabis as the land use,” said Curtis Marshall, manager of development planning for Wellington North, during the public meeting Monday evening.
In September 2021, council passed an interim control by-law prohibiting the establishment of “cannabis production-related uses” in the township for one year to allow for a land use planning study on the growing and processing of the plant.
This was extended a second-time last year.
However, Coun. Penny Renken wasn’t sure the bylaw was clear enough to protect residents living on neighbouring properties.
“I’m just a little concerned about the wording where it says the distance between the growing operation in a rural area and to a sensitive area,” said Renken. “The area on the sensitive land between the house and the lot line may be occupied by family or children playing.”
According to the report, all activities associated with indoor cannabis production shall be setback a minimum of 300 metres from the lot line for those with sensitive uses.
In the case where the sensitive land use is a residential dwelling, the measurements are to the building itself, not the lot line.
“When I was working I had to be in contact with raw marijuana plants that were seized and I ended up with sore throats and headaches,” said Renken. “So I think that’s a real concern for the people living in these residences.”
But while Marshall said it was a “fair comment,” the zoning decision was made since the township’s rectangular lots make it “difficult” to locate setbacks on different properties.
“A lot of farms (in Arthur and around the township) are surveyed at 300 metres wide so effectively if we had a 300-metre setback to the lot line, it would leave very little area on most farms for the severance,” said Marshall. “Thinking about that, if it is to a dwelling, it would provide additional opportunity to locate a (cannabis) facility or field.”
A similar concern brought up within the report was related to odour.
“The permission to allow the outdoor growing of cannabis and hemp recognizes the agricultural nature of “growing” the plant, and proposed setbacks and separation distances should serve to limit impacts and nuisances related to odours,” said the report. “The seasonal nature of outdoor growing will also limit impacts and nuisances to sensitive land uses as only one crop per year is grown, as opposed to an indoor facility where numerous crops can be grown with plants potentially always in bloom and odorous.”
The bylaw was enacted following a vote of 3 to 1.
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