Made in Red Deer medical marijuana was nipped in the bud at city council on Monday.
An application for Medcan Solutions Inc. to turn a vacant building at 94 Burnt Park Drive into a medical weed facility failed to pass first reading.
Council voted 4-4 on the proposed land-use bylaw amendment that would have permitted the facility in West QE2 Business Park to operate as a discretionary use. In the case of a tie vote, the motion fails.
Approval would have allowed a public hearing to be held on the application, followed by second and third readings.
Councillors Buck Buchanan, Frank Wong, Ken Johnston and Tanya Handley voted against the amendment and councillors Paul Harris, Dianne Wyntjes, Lynne Mulder and Lawrence Lee voted in favour. Mayor Tara Veer recused herself from the discussion and vote to avoid conflict of interest as she was previously approached by the applicant on the project.
Prior to the vote, Lee unsuccessfully proposed a motion to delay first reading for at least six weeks so city administration could do more research on the medical marijuana production for councillors who had questions on issues like odour, safety and security.
The motion failed in a five to three vote.
Lee said based on council’s discussion, there were some misconceptions, or not a clear understanding of the facility which would actually be an industrial, agricultural production facility with the technology and science to address their concerns.
“We’re seeing these facilities prosper and grow throughout Canada. The public sees the need for those types of things for people who need it,” Lee said after the meeting.
“(The proposed site) was vacant for many years. I look at the economic development factor. It would create jobs. It would contribute to the city infrastructure through property taxes.”
During council’s discussion, Handley said businesses in the area did not want the facility and she was concerned the city was setting a precedent in its industrial business service district.
Wyntjes said she supports urban agriculture initiatives and medical marijuana for whom it is prescribed.
“If you ever talked to somebody who was experiencing pain and been prescribed it, it makes a difference in their life,” Wyntjes said.
She said while the facilities are highly regulated by Health Canada, she still worried about air quality and the concerns of nearby landowners, and supported a public hearing.
“I think it’s about moving our community conversation and educating us and having those questions answered,” Wyntjes said.
Lee did not know if there were other sites in Red Deer that Medcan would consider.
“They may apply to a different city or municipality, or different area.”
Last week the municipal planning commission approved the application for city council consideration.
Medcan Solutions can appeal council’s decision to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.
A medical marijuana facility, north of Cremona, has been operational since January. The Town of Olds approved a medical marijuana facility in 2014 but have not received a development permit application for the facility.