Grimsby looks to allow cannabis growing while reducing odour

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While many in Grimsby were hoping to avoid allowing cannabis to be grown in the town at all, the municipality has started the process to allow for medical and commercial growth.

At a committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 2, council heard from consultants with SGL Planning and Design Inc. who were hired to do a land use study for cannabis growth operations in the town. These same consultants held a public meeting in June, where they heard concerns from residents and councillors.

As it stands, the town’s official plan makes no reference to cannabis. The study recommends the town allow commercial cannabis production licensed by Health Canada, and designated medical growth in areas zoned for specialty crops.

The plan proposes amendments to the official plan and zoning bylaw to specify that cultivation is to take place wholly in enclosed spaces, accessory uses must occur on the same lot as cultivation, and businesses must undergo a yearly licence renewal.

Buildings would also need to be equipped with air treatment control that prevents the escape of odour. Grimsby opted out of having recreational stores in 2019.

The consultants explained that the town could not completely ban the growing of cannabis, as it is legal agriculture.

“We’re trying to come up with a means of restricting it, but an outright prohibition would be difficult to enforce or to convince OLT in case of an appeal,” said Paul Lowes, a partner with SGL.

Many councillors brought up the problems with odour from cannabis plants in Lincoln, and how it’s been spilling into Grimsby.

Coun. Reg Freake said he lives more than a mile away from the facility in Lincoln, and can still smell it.

New Coun. Nick DiFlavio asked how odour mitigation rules are enforced.

Referring to the facility in Lincoln, it was explained that given the rules that were in place in Lincoln at the time that cannabis facility was crafted, they didn’t have any specific rules in place to mitigate or enforce odour control, so it falls on Health Canada to come and meet with the facility.

That process that can take months.

Through their plan, the consultants with SGL recommended yearly business licence renewals, which would allow the town to check in on a yearly basis and enforce the rules themselves.

Terri Donna Edwards, senior planner with the town, said that particular situation in Lincoln is exactly why they’ve proposed the rules they have.

“We’re trying to circumvent those problems moving forward,” she said.

The one piece of the proposed plan that council ultimately ended up changing was the proposed 150-metre separation distance from sensitive land uses (such as residential areas and parks).

Councillors believed 150 metres wasn’t enough space, and upped it to 450.

Council then approved the proposed plan as amended, but it will be need to be ratified at the next meeting.

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