Lin­coln coun­cil hits brakes on pot pro­duc­tion

‘Daily, my kids ask about the dead skunks,’ says Jor­dan res­i­dent Kris­ten Dias

The Hamilton Spectator - - Local - LUKE ED­WARDS

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.

STEVE HENSCHEL METROLAND

The Town of Lin­coln is halt­ing new cannabis pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties un­til a zon­ing by­law can be up­dated.

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