DELTA â€” Delta council has approved another medical marijuana facility in the municipality.
A public hearing was held at municipal hall Tuesday for a rezoning application by a new company called Delta Farms to open an industrial marijuana growing facility in the 7300-block of Vantage Way in Tilbury.
The proposed 11,400-square-foot grow operation would be surrounded by warehouses and other businesses.
The applicant stated there would be an expected production volume of up to 22 kilograms of medical marijuana per week, serving approximately 2,000 patients. The product, which would not be sold on-site, would generally be transported via Canada Post.
The new operation, which still requires Health Canada clearance before receiving final Delta approval, would be smaller than the recently approved medical marijuana grow operation by International Herbs Medical Marijuana Ltd. for a facility on Annacis Island. However, the Tilbury operation, sharing its building with another business tenant, could conceivably expand into the rest of the building in the future.
New federal rules that took effect this spring change how medical marijuana is grown and distributed. The regulations are aimed at allowing larger-scale operations over small home-based ones.
In a pre-emptive move, Delta council passed zoning regulations prohibiting medical marijuana facilities in all zones, including agricultural, although they would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The idea was to keep any potential operation within industrial zones.
Several neighbouring businesses of the Tilbury application wrote to Delta expressing opposition, concerned about crime, air quality and a drop in property values. Some of the business owners were on hand at the public hearing to hear Delta Farms president David Rose offer assurances the business would comply with Health Canadaâ€™s stringent security and operational requirements, including installing proper ventilation. He also said Delta police would be consulted regarding every aspect of the security plan. â€œEvery aspect of the operation would be monitored and tracked, from the first seed to the last gram,â€ he said.
Rose, noting there would be no external physical changes to the building, said there would be no negative impact on property values. He added the business should be called a pharmaceutical company and not a â€œgrow op.â€
Bob McKenzie with Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc. (CAPTIN), located near the proposed facility, reiterated concerns regarding crime and what could happen to their neighborhood.
Deltaâ€™s deputy planning director Marcy Sangret noted police would have to be consulted to see how to determine if any increase in area crime could be attributed to the business. After a series of questions, the majority of council voted in favour of granting a third reading.
Noting he had a late friend who could have benefited from medical marijuana, Coun. Bruce McDonald said the application meets the criteria checklist, although it would have been better for the applicant to first meet with the neighbourhood to explain what was being proposed and answer questions. Coun. Ian Paton said he expects more applications will be coming â€œleft, right and centreâ€ but the Tilbury operation is the appropriate setting, located in a concrete building in an industrial area, as well as surrounded by fencing.
Coun. Robert Campbell agreed, but noted he doubts Delta will become a medical marijuana grow centre of the country because Health Canada will put a cap on the number of licenses.
However, Mayor Lois Jackson voted in opposition, saying thereâ€™s nothing to suggest problems wonâ€™t arise from the new type of marijuana operations.
â€œOne of the things we have not talked about is the neighbours. If this was proposed for a residential area, we would have paid more attention to what they had to say,â€ she said.
Jackson, noting other communities should take their fair share of such businesses, said she didnâ€™t like the idea the Tilbury business could expand to a 5,000-pound annual business without needing councilâ€™s approval.
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