Rejected Red Deer County cannabis production facility to go to appeal

County’s subdivision and development appeal board hearing set for May 2

A Calgary group whose proposal to build a huge cannabis production facility in Red Deer County was turned down last month will make its case before an appeal board.

Sevenz Consulting wants to build a 190,000-square-foot cannabis facility 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.

They presented their application to the county’s municipal planning commission on March 27, but it was rejected, mostly because commission members felt it was too close to a residential area.

A number of residents feared the facility would lead to odour problems, attract crime and lower property values.

The subdivision and development appeal board is holding a hearing on the project at Red Deer County Centre on May 2 at 1:30 p.m.

Sevenz Consulting vice-president Sunny Sarpal said the cannabis facilities would be sealed from the outside and will have multiple filtration systems that go beyond Health Canada requirements.

“One of the biggest things is in order to be a Health Canada-approved facility you already have to have their odour mitigation policies in place, which Health Canada verifies.

“Not only are we adhering to their specifications of not releasing any odours because that’s against federal regulations we’ll be integrating other technologies which we’ll be talking about (at the hearing).”

Sarpal said facilities will be located in an industrial park and meet all of the county’s Land Use Bylaw regulations and local planning policies.

The facilities are not traditional greenhouses, but “state-of-the-art” medical and food grade industrial buildings that will blend in with other neighbouring commercial businesses.

If approved, the project will provide an economic boon to the area, creating 3,000 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs, he said.

The complex would be built almost to prison-level specifications, including a three-metre perimeter fence and 24-hour security.

This is not the first time a cannabis production proposal has proven contentious in Red Deer County.

In 2017, a 53,000-square-foot medical marijuana facility was proposed in the Pine Lake area, about 30 kilometres east of Innisfail. A number of residents banded together to oppose the project, which was later withdrawn by the proponents.

The controversy prompted the county to update its Land Use Bylaw to be ready for future applications. Those regulations require cannabis production facilities to be located in industrial or business parks.

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