City preparing for pot growers

The City of Red Deer is preparing should a medical marijuana business want to set up shop here.

The City of Red Deer is preparing should a medical marijuana business want to set up shop here.

A public hearing on several proposed land-use bylaw amendments, including permitting medical marijuana facilities in heavy industrial areas, will be heard in council chambers on June 9.

Planning manager Tara Lodewyk said the city has not received any applications but the city wanted to be prepared for when that day comes.

Lodewyk said the federal government updated the Marihuana for Medical Purpose Regulations that govern the growing production, processing and transportation of medical marijuana April 1. The spelling of “marihuana” is used in the city’s bylaws because it is based on federal regulations.

“As a municipality we cannot disallow them anywhere in the city,” said Lodewyk. “We have to have a provision for them.”

Lodewyk said they want to be very clear that the federally-regulated facilities will be only permitted in heavy industrial (I2) areas because some applicants may try to get them in under other definitions such as green house.

“We can’t say under law that we don’t want them anywhere but we are being proactive in saying this is the place where they belong if you so choose to locate one in Red Deer,” said Lodewyk.

Under federal regulations, medical marijuana facilities (MMF) are manufacturing and processing operations, which makes the city’s heavy industrial areas the logical location in the city.

MMF will be allowed as a discretionary use because of the potential for odour emissions. This will allow the development authority to give consideration to any adjoining uses.

The proposed definition of such a facility in the bylaw would be “any building in which an activity authorized by the Medical Marihuana Production Regulations, or any successor or replacement legislation or regulation, is or may be conducted including such activities as growing, producing, labelling and packaging, storing and transporting of marihuana.”

The other bylaw amendments proposed are needed to bring bylaws in line with federal and provincial regulations, clarify wording and to streamline the development permit process.

One proposal is to modify the development permit application in Parkvale Overlay District to bring it in line with other neighbourhoods. Before 2000, if there was a relaxation needed in a permit, the applicant was required to work with the community association before submitting a development permit application to the city.

Since then the city has adopted design criteria in Riverside Meadows and West Park and other areas where the city takes the lead and works with the associations. This change is keeping in line with the other neighbourhoods in Red Deer.

The change was requested by the Parkvale Association.

The city is also proposing deleting the requirement for the Planning Department to host information sessions for bed and breakfast applications.

Lodewyk said this was a contentious issue before 2000. She said neighbours wanted more than the required letter notifying them of an application including a tour of the bed and breakfast. In recent years, there has been extremely low attendance at the open houses. She said the city will continue to contact the neighbours about applicants. They will not host open houses unless there is a request.

The public hearing gets underway at 6 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall. For more information, call 403-342-8132.

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