Rob Shirton observed at last Tuesday’s Haldimand council in committee, that with the legalization of marijuana, legal grow-ops were popping up in several rural communities. He wondered if there was a list of where they are. 

Tony Dalimonte added residents in his ward have been asking lots of questions.

Bernie Corbett noted Norfolk county has passed a bylaw to deal with the issues around grow ops, such as smell. He asked whether Haldimand had plans to do the same.

Monday night, a precis of which level of government has authority over the different aspects of legal grow ops was presented to councillors by staff.

Licencing:

Health Canada is the approval authority for Cannabis Production Facilities (CPF’s), including the medical marijuana regime and regulation of the production of recreational marijuana upon its legalization.

All CPFs require a license from Health Canada. Through the licensing process, Health Canada regulates the following: All aspects of security, including fencing, cameras and lighting; Production practices, including management of microbial and chemical contents of seeds and plants; All aspects of packaging, labelling and shipping (including importing and exporting); Client registrations and transactions

There is no requirement from Health Canada for parties pursuing a production license to notify area residents of their intent to establish a licensed CPF on a given property.

Production Facilities:

The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (Board) operates in conjunction with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The Board was established under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act with the mandate to resolve disputes regarding agricultural operations and to determine what constitutes a normal farm practice. 

In performing that function, the Board seeks to balance the needs of the agricultural community with health, safety and environmental concerns.

A person directly affected by a disturbance from an agricultural operation (such as a CPF) may apply to the Board, after they have gone through a conflict resolution process facilitated by OMAFRA, for a determination as to whether the disturbance results from a normal farm practice. 

Disturbances can include things such as: odour, noise, dust, light, smoke, flies and vibration. The Board renders a decision regarding the farm practice and can require the farmer (operator/grower) to modify the activity to mitigate the disturbance.

Apart from the above, the Province’s role is currently limited. Regulations and guidelines are still being developed for the Province of Ontario to address odour issues.

Retail Sales:

When it’s legal, people 19 and over will be able to purchase recreational cannabis initially online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). The OCS website, which will be operated by the Province, will be the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis once the Federal government legalizes it in October 2018. It will follow strict rules set by the federal government.

The Ontario government is also expected to introduce legislation that, if passed, would open up a tightly regulated private retail model for recreational cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019. The Province has indicated that private stores would be regulated, with the protection of youth and children as a top priority, and with an aim to help the Province combat the illegal market. 

It is anticipated that the Province will allow municipalities to decide whether or not they want to host these retail establishments. County Council will be tasked with making this decision (opt in or opt out of being a host) should the Province offer up this ultimatum.

A municipality’s role is limited to where a CPF can go (i.e. in which land use zones it is permitted) and how they are laid out on site (i.e. zoning provisions such as setbacks and site design regulation through site plan control)

Are CPFs currently permitted in Haldimand County?

Yes, CPFs are currently permitted in ‘Agricultural (A)’ zones and are treated as an agricultural use (crop growing). All existing ‘Agricultural (A)’ zone requirements for setbacks, building height limitations, etc. are applicable.

Is the County considering any further regulation?

Production Facilities: Yes, as part of the on-going development of a comprehensive County-wide zoning by-law, unique provisions for CPFs are being developed. While they are in draft form at present, the unique provisions would seek to establish:

Customized zoning provisions, including increased setbacks from sensitive land uses (e.g. residential, institutional) that are more in line with the setbacks required for livestock facilities and kennels (e.g. 150 metres building setback from residential/institutional lot lines);

A site plan control process which will regulate all aspects of site layout, including orientation/placement of buildings, parking, access driveways, landscaping/buffering, etc.

These zoning changes are expected to be presented to Council for consideration early in 2019.

Retail Sales: Yes, if Council opts in to allowing retail sales, staff expects to introduce zoning regulations that regulate where the activity can occur and introduce separation distances from specific uses (i.e. schools).

These zoning changes are expected to be presented to Council for consideration early in 2019.