City prepares for marihuana production

The City of Wetaskiwin Land Use Bylaw 1804-13 does not identify medical marihuana production facilities (MMPF) as a use.

Health Canada has approved the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR)  authorizing  approved commercial producers to grow and distribute marihuana for medicinal purposes.  As of March, 2015 over 1,200 applications for new facilities were received by Health Canada and approximately 30 new applications are received every month. These applications go through a rigorous review.  Approximately 60 per cent of applications are rejected after the first review.  Once applications are approved, the producers must meet extensive requirements as described in the regulation which include personal and physical security, record keeping, and good production practices.

Medical marihuana production facility means a use where medical marihuana is grown, processed, packaged, tested, destroyed, stored or loaded for shipping where a license for all activities associated with medical marihuana production has been issued by Health Canada.

The City of Wetaskiwin Land Use Bylaw 1804-13 does not identify medical marihuana production facilities (MMPF) as a use. Other municipalities have found they had issues when their land use bylaws do not specifically identify MMPF as these facilities are then being developed in agricultural land use districts where permits are not required for “farm” buildings and minimal tax revenue is generated.

City of Wetaskiwin administration  proposed to add a definition for a medical marihuana production facility to the land use bylaw, including specific use regulations. Such properties would be identified as a discretionary use in the M2 – heavy industrial district. The M2 district best meets the purpose.

It is defined as: “The purpose of this zoning classification is to provide for manufacturing, processing, assembly, distribution, service and repair uses, as permitted uses, that carry out a portion of their operation outdoors or require outdoor storage areas. Any nuisance associated with such permitted uses should not generally extend beyond the boundaries of the zoning classification. The zoning classification also allows for other industrial uses as discretionary uses that due to their appearance, industry image, noise, odour, risk of toxic emissions, or fire and explosion hazards are incompatible with residential, commercial and other land uses. The zoning classification also allows for some commercial uses as discretionary uses that provide commercial services to the industrial areas.”

The specific use regulations require an MMPF to be outside of a 76 metre radius from a residential district, existing religious facility, existing private and public school, existing day care facility, existing community hall or existing park. The specific use regulation also requires MMPF to be in a stand-alone building, no outdoor storage, loading docks located within the building and must include equipment designed and intended to remove odours from the air outside of the building.

City council gave first reading to Bylaw 1855-15 and approved a motion to  schedule a public hearing regarding Bylaw1855-15 for 4 p.m. on Monday August 17 at the regular council meeting to be held in council chambers.