Lincoln council hits brakes on pot production
‘Daily, my kids ask about the dead skunks,’ says Jordan resident Kristen Dias
The Town of Lincoln is temporarily halting new cannabis production facilities, and also putting existing operations on notice.
At a special council meeting recently, councillors approved a staff recommendation to pass an interim control bylaw that will effectively stop any new cannabis facilities until the town can update its zoning bylaw.
The bylaw comes at the behest of local residents who have complained about cannabis greenhouses popping up where they shouldn’t, causing light and odour concerns in residential communities.
“Daily, my kids ask about the dead skunks,” said Jordan resident Kristen Dias, who has a proposed cannabis greenhouse next door.
Dias' children could smell the familiar odour going to and from St. Edward Catholic Elementary School, where there are nearby greenhouses growing cannabis.
She has since moved her children to a different school, citing odour as part of the reason for the move.
“Ever since they converted to cannabis several years ago our lives have changed for us dramatically,” said Harold Galenkamp, who lives adjacent to a cannabis growing greenhouse on 15th Street.
But the interim control bylaw can only affect new applications.
Town planner Matt Bruder explained the bylaw can’t retroactively impact facilities that are already up and running.
So in an attempt to address the odour concerns of those facilities, councillors have also asked staff to work with other agencies, like the Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs, as well as other levels of government and the Niagara regional police.
Staff will report back to council on a quarterly basis.
It’s unclear where the buck stops when it comes to monitoring and enforcing odour issues.
Jordan resident John Michael Dykstra said there’s language in the federal legislation legalizing recreational cannabis that calls for zero tolerance when it comes to odour in the production stage.
Chief administrator Mike Kirkopoulos said odour is a Health Canada matter but believes municipalities may be able to do more enforcement. He said staff will report back to council to inform them what they can do as a municipality.
The interim control bylaw can be put in place for up to a year, with the possibility of one, oneyear extension. It comes at a time when the town is planning to update its zoning bylaw anyway, and Bruder said staff will be working to complete those reports as quickly as possible.
Coun. Paul MacPherson said his one concern is the interim control bylaw may block investment from legitimate companies like Up Cannabis Canada, who play by the rules and take odour and safety concerns seriously.
“My fear is we’re going to block another Up Cannabis” and the jobs and investment that come with it, he said.
At the same time the municipality took action on cannabis production in town, they also deferred a decision on retail sales in town.
The provincial opt-out deadline to allow retail cannabis stores is Jan. 22.
A report Monday recommended opting out for the time being. Municipalities can opt out before Jan. 22 and then opt in any time later. However, once they opt in, they can no longer opt out.
Kirkopoulos said opting out would allow the municipality to gauge things once the dust settles.
However, opting out could come at a financial cost. Municipalities are eligible for implementation payments if they opt in. Lincoln would receive $11,800 in January and another payment in April.
The Town of Lincoln is halting new cannabis production facilities until a zoning bylaw can be updated.