A proposed cannabis production complex was rejected by Red Deer County on Tuesday because it was too close to homes.
The 190,000-square-foot production facility would be comprised of a series of buildings, including sealed production facilities, on 10 acres of a 90-acre site in Blindman Industrial Park, just west of Red Deer.
However, a number of residents living in a nearby subdivision voiced their opposition to the project, fearing it would smell, reduce property values and could attract crime.
In a letter to the county, Grant Price says he owns property within 500 metres of the proposed facility, which if allowed to proceed could devalue his land by as much as half.
Price owns three Harley Davidson dealerships, including Red Deer’s and one in Kelowna, B.C., which is within 500 metres of a cannabis production facility. The smell when that facility vents is “outrageous,” he says in his letter.
The county’s municipal planning commission, which includes all of council, voted 6-1 against the project. Coun. Philip Massier voted in favour.
Coun. Christine Moore said she is not opposed to cannabis production facilities setting up in the county.
“But it has to be in the right place, and this is not the right place,” Moore said.
“When this is built, it will never go away and we have an obligation to our ratepayers.”
Mayor Jim Wood said the industrial park where the facility would go is an “anomaly” because of the nearby residential subdivision.
“(The project) kind of fits the zoning, but it doesn’t fit the reality,” said Wood.
The mayor said the smell could prove to be an issue, noting the proponents could not guarantee there would be no odours released.
“I don’t hear zero smell. I’m hearing there will be some smell.
“I think we have (industrial) parks that would suit this development really well.”
Coun. Philip Massier said while the project was a tough call, the developers said they could meet all of the county’s conditions and the project would be built in an area where other industrial businesses have been operating.
“I don’t know where we should tell our applicants where they have to go.”
Sunny Sarpal, vice-president of Calgary-based Sevenz Consulting and Centcom Construction, was disappointed with council’s decision and said they plan to appeal to the county’s subdivision and development appeal board. In the meantime, they will also review the project to see if the county’s concerns can be addressed.
Sarpal said the project would have provided an economic boost to the region and served as a centre that could be used by those in every aspect of the cannabis industry, from production to research.
The first phase of the project was to include a number of buildings, including production facilities, presentation centre and security units. Cannabis facilities would be sealed from the outside and would exceed all Health Canada regulations.
For security, the complex would be built almost to prison-level specifications, including a three-metre perimeter fence and 24-hour security.
“From the security, down to the actual facilities itself, these would be purpose-based facilities — medical-grade, food-grade, finished facilities — where one can actually be safe and environmentally work in a controlled environment,” said Sarpal.
“At the end of the day, a project like this could provide up to 3,000 jobs, quite a lot of economic development and provide a lot of opportunity.”