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Southgate says “not yet” to cannabis production as it develops policy

·2 min read

Council members were warned they may get calls from some people who want to start up cannabis operations in Southgate.

But they went ahead and passed a recommended “interim” measure to prohibit the land use to allow more research.

The pause is needed, township planner Clint Stredwick wrote in his report, “in order to address and get ahead of what staff see as increasing trend to grow and distribute cannabis.”

“Staff feel that some policy should be created to respond to this new land use with significant potential impacts,” the report said.

Proper setbacks from neighbours is one example of the type of regulations that the planner wants to develop. Other issues may have local aspects as well, such as any on policing costs.

CAO Dave Milliner said that while growing cannabis may be an agricultural use –" you don’t have to put fences and barbed wire around corn fields." He suggested it could be a different zoning, or perhaps the property could be taxed at a higher level if the use did have a likelihood of raising the township’s costs for enforcement.

Many aspects are laid out by the federal and provincial governments, but local municipalities also have some specific tools and authority, the report said.

Right now, the Official Plan and Site Plan Control Bylaw are “silent” on the use, the planner said, and going case by case can lead to inconsistent decision-making.

The Official Plan update now underway can include the provisions. But until then, the planner asked for and got an Interim Control bylaw to put a pause on the issue.

Coun. Barbara Dobreen pointed out that there will be public consultation as part of the Official Plan process.

The township has been receiving “quite a number of inquiries” from would-be producers, council heard.

Coun. Martin Shipston said that it’s good to get the rules straight to nip any problems in the bud.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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