Win Some Lose Some at Ottawa City Planning Committee Meeting

New rules for medical marijuana grow-ops get green light, but rezoning for school not supported
By Pam McLennan, Epoch Times
February 12, 2014 Updated: February 13, 2014

OTTAWA—With the federal government’s new regulations regarding the production of medical marijuana going into effect April 1, the city’s planning committee wrestled with the issue of where such a facility could be located at its Feb. 11 meeting.

Currently, patients with a Health Canada licence to produce medical marijuana can grow their own plants or buy from a small grower. As of April 1, however, medical pot will only be grown by government-regulated commercial companies. 

Health Canada has stated that this change will provide a more consistent product for patients and will preclude any illegal sale or theft of home-grown plants.

The city council planning committee decided it would allow such a facility to be set up in Ottawa but with several stipulations.

Following recommendations from the city’s urban planners, pot production will be limited to industrial zones (as opposed to agricultural zones) that are at least 150 metres from residential or institutional buildings such as schools or churches.

Federal regulations require only a 70-metre buffer between such facilities and other buildings. The increased separation required in Ottawa is thought to provide an extra layer of assurance that a marijuana-growing facility won’t disrupt its neighbours.

The facility will grow, dry, and package the plants, which follows the federal regulations. As such, no traffic disruptions are anticipated as there won’t be any retail activity at the site. The facility will be fenced, either outdoors or indoors, using security features to prevent illegal entry.

Other concerns discussed include foul odours and disposal of waste plant materials. Health Canada requires soaking the waste plant material in a solvent to destroy its active ingredients, and then composting the material.

To date, nine notifications of interest have been received by the city.

No Rezoning for School

At the same meeting, rezoning of industrial park land on Innovation Drive in Kanata to allow the building of a school was not supported. Instead, city staff will work quickly to facilitate development of another tract of land deemed more suitable for a school site.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board recently bought the land under discussion based on a city staff statement that rezoning would be possible. The new school is needed urgently as there is already a shortfall of 700 primary student placements in a rapidly growing area of the city. Also, the board stated that funding for the new school will be lost if a facility isn’t ready by September 2015.

The committee heard concerns from Nordion and Best Theratronics—businesses close to the proposed school site that produce nuclear-related medications—that using the property would prevent future expansion of their businesses, which have been in the area for almost 50 years.

The situation could change, as the school board has appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Kanata North councillor Marianne Wilkinson said the alternate site in Arcadia, a Minto development site, is appropriate. Wilkinson noted that the last school built in her ward was completed in 11 months, and thus a new school could be ready by the deadline of fall 2015.