By PAUL COWLEY
A proposed medical marijuana facility has been rejected by Red Deer County.
The 44,000-square-foot facility would have been located off Hwy 11A about four km west of Red Deer. It was unanimously rejected by the county’s municipal planning commission on Tuesday.
A number of residents in the area expressed their concerns about the project, which would have been located near the Poplar Ridge and Diamond Estates subdivisions. Concerns included odour, increased traffic, the potential the project could draw criminal activity and the impacts on local water supplies and property values.
County planners recommended to the county’s municipal planning commission that the application be denied. Administration is concerned with the size, scale and intent of the operation, says a report to the commission.
“The size of the building is significantly larger than a typical agricultural building and is not typical of the surrounding community,” says the report. “The operation would be better suited in an industrial area.”
Planners also point out that there are many homes in the area and a 39-lot housing development, Poplar Point Estates, has just been approved for a site less than a kilometre to the south.
Coun. Christine Moore said she is not opposed to developments of this sort. “It just has to be in the right place, and this is not the right place.”
Planning commission chairman Philip Massier said the issue boils down to what is considered an agricultural facility.
“This one we felt was getting more on the commercial side and should be in a commercial area,” said Massier.
“In some ways, it’s to protect the existing agricultural,” he said of the rationale for turning down the proposal.
Massier believes it is time to look at medical marijuana facilities more closely and get some direction from the county’s agricultural services board and at the provincial level about how they should be treated when making planning decisions.
“How do we define the difference between an agricultural usage of land and a commercial usage of agricultural land?”
There are tax implications as well because unlike commercial buildings, agricultural buildings are not assessed for taxation purposes.
The group behind the proposed medical marijuana facility did not have a comment following the meeting.