MAY­ORS TALK POT PO­TEN­TIAL

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties see new op­por­tu­ni­ties in cannabis

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If Health Canada ap­proves the li­cences, Kingsville will likely be the home of 12 new large com­mer­cial cannabis grow­ing oper­a­tions in the near fu­ture.

Mayor Nel­son San­tos said Fri­day that coun­cil has al­ready ap­proved zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for nine sites to grow med­i­cal cannabis, with three more in the queue. Those 12 sites could mean even more than a dozen green­houses, depend­ing on the acreage of each one, he said. “It’s a new in­dus­try for us and we’re try­ing to iden­tify the con­cerns that are com­ing from our com­mu­nity, but also rec­og­niz­ing that is part of the fu­ture of our eco­nomic devel­op­ment,” said San­tos. He made the com­ments Fri­day at Break­fast with the May­ors 2019, hosted by the Leam­ing­ton District Cham­ber of Com­merce. San­tos and Leam­ing­ton’s new mayor, Hilda Mac­Don­ald, gave speeches at the gath­er­ing. Both were pep­pered with ques­tions from re­porters about cannabis fol­low­ing their speeches.

“I truly be­lieve we’re on the cusp of a great op­por­tu­nity,” said Mac­Don­ald, whose town was the first in Es­sex County to opt in for hav­ing pri­vate cannabis re­tail stores. Despite that, she said mar­i­juana will still be sec­ondary to the other food-fo­cused green­house oper­a­tions.

“I imag­ine it’s go­ing to be huge,” said Mac­Don­ald, who told the crowd her top pri­or­ity is a new sewer line to ser­vice green­house and in­dus­trial sec­tors north of town.

“We al­ways eat, though. So pro­duce, veg­eta­bles — 100 per cent of the peo­ple eat 100 per cent of the time. One hun­dred per cent of the peo­ple will not use cannabis.” In Kingsville, said San­tos, a site plan has al­ready been ap­proved at Mucci Farms for one of the 12 oper­a­tions. He said the next step is Health Canada ap­proval. “We’ll see up to 20 acres po­ten­tially built in the next year, year and a half depend­ing on their ap­provals,” said San­tos.

The 12 ap­pli­ca­tions would ac­count for at least 100 acres, he said. “Af­ter those 12 are dealt with, we’re putting a freeze on any fu­ture devel­op­ment so that we can ac­tu­ally see this evolve,” said San­tos. “We can see what other chal­lenges may hap­pen.”

Both may­ors said deal­ing with the smell and light­ing from cannabis green­houses are among the chal­lenges.

“We’ve in­cor­po­rated that into our by­laws and in­cor­po­rated into site plans,” said San­tos.

“The green­house grow­ers know they need to con­trol the smell on site and they need to keep the light, main­tain­ing our night skies so we’re not in­vad­ing the night skies.” There haven’t been a lot of Leam­ing­ton res­i­dents con­cerned about the light and smell is­sue, said Mac­Don­ald, but enough that it must be dealt with.

“It may be a mat­ter of turn­ing the lights on not when peo­ple are try­ing to fall asleep,” she said. “It might be turn­ing them on at two in the morn­ing. All of those things, we can solve them with con­ver­sa­tion. We may have to put some rules and reg­u­la­tions into place but it is not pro­hib­i­tive.

“We can work on that.”

NICK BRANCACCIO

Leam­ing­ton Mayor Hilda Mac­Don­ald and her Kingsville coun­ter­part Nel­son San­tos at­tended Break­fast with the May­ors 2019 hosted by Leam­ing­ton District Cham­ber of Com­merce at Co­las­anti’s Trop­i­cal Gar­dens on Fri­day. Both dis­cussed the fu­ture of cannabis pro­duc­tion in their re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

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