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Council keeps potential pot production applicants waiting

St. Albert councillors ask administration to bring forward land use bylaw amendments before going forward with any applications

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am

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Development permit applications for medical marijuana production facilities continue to stay on hold in St. Albert.

On Tuesday night, council directed that no applications for such facilities can be received until the land use bylaw amendments council agreed to that evening have been developed and approved.

That motion to continue to delay applications was passed by a 6-1 vote, with Coun. Cathy Heron in the minority.

Heron had put forward a motion to have administration bring forward land use bylaw amendment recommendations to add medical marijuana production facilities as a permitted use in commercial and industrial service, business park, business park transition and business park direct control land use districts, as well as providing setbacks from schools, residential areas and daycares.

Heron’s original motion had been to add it as a discretionary use, but she changed it to a permitted use. Her fellow councillors changed it back to discretionary in a 4-3 vote with Heron, Coun. Tim Osborne and Coun. Gilles Prefontaine on the defeated side.

When Coun. Wes Brodhead asked Heron why she’d made the wording change, she said she sees no problem with medical marijuana facilities coming into industrial areas, but there is a stigma.

“I think what we should be doing is try to remove that stigma,” Heron said.

Coun. Sheena Hughes brought forward the amendment to change the motion from allowing it as a permitted use – which would mean an application in the appropriate zone would likely get the go-ahead from a development officer – back to discretionary, which adds more scrutiny to the application.

Hughes argued residents should get the chance to have their say.

She also said there was a chance that an odour could come from the facility, though Osborne noted requirements in Health Canada’s guidelines to prevent odour from escaping the facility.

“The stigma will affect your property values,” Hughes said.

“I think our people should have the opportunity to speak,” said Brodhead.

Coun. Cam MacKay pointed to the lists of businesses that are considered discretionary uses. For instance in business park districts, discretionary uses include community halls, warehouses and more.

“Why would we elevate marijuana production facilities above all of those other businesses?” MacKay asked. “I’d like to proceed cautiously rather than jumping right in.”

Once council decided to go with discretionary over permitted, the motion was passed in a 5-2 vote with Osborne and mayor Nolan Crouse voting against it.

Anyone waiting to apply for a development permit for a medical marijuana production facility will have to wait until council has approved land use bylaw amendments.


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