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Majority ignore staff recommendation, reject cannabis grow op zoning

Posted February 11, 2020

New Tecumseth councillors voted 7-3 in committee last night against a site specific zoning bylaw amendment which was the final piece to permit a licenced cannabis micro-cultivation operation at 5776 11th Line. Ward 2 councillor Michael Beattie, Stephanie MacLellan, Ward 6, and Shira Harrison McIntyre, Ward 7, were in favour.

The vote still has to be ratified in council. It is open to an LPAT appeal, which would be bouyed by the fact New Tecumseth's planning department, Simcoe County, the NVCA, Health Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, support the application.

The subject property is located within a prime agricultural area, and is approximately 1.32 hectares (3.26 acres). It includes a vacant detached home and accessory structure, surrounded by agricultural and some rural residential neighbours, the nearest about 300 metres away.

Most of the opposition comes from residents living on the 3rd Line who neighbour what is alleged to be a pop-up non-conforming cannabis grow-op. Their concern is permitting the zoning on the 11th would open up the town to other operations.

Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury and Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb, were most vocal in opposition to its location, suggesting instead it belonged in an industrial zone.

The issue was delayed a couple weeks because council had directed more clarification from OMAFRA as to land use issues.

The ministry came down on the side of the proponent, who told councillors again last night he worked through the planning approvals process, and was already licenced to grow up to 300 plants for medicinal purposes on the site. OMAFRA noted cannabis is regulated by the federal government.

"Under these regulations, licensed producers are permitted to conduct a number of activities, including the production of the cannabis crop. These activities result in different land uses, which are regulated through the land use planning system. Some of these uses can be considered agricultural uses, while others may be considered agriculture-related uses.

"Cannabis is a crop that produces "a harvestable product and may be used for a variety of purposes beyond food production" and it can require "on-farm buildings and structures associated with growing crops are also considered agricultural uses. This includes greenhouses or other structures used for growing plants."

"Based on this, the growing of cannabis crops qualifies as an agricultural use as per the PPS, including the growing of this crop in greenhouses or other structures. The outdoor cultivation of cannabis is also considered permitted. Ancillary uses relating to the principle use of growing cannabis could be permitted as agriculture-related uses or on-farm diversified uses."

The council vote is expected March 2.


All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri