Restricted to industrial areas, must have 150M buffer zone
Among many other restrictions, the facilities will be restricted to industrial lands, and will have to provide a 150-metre buffer from other lands. City planner Eric Taylor said there's 231 properties in city limits that have enough space and are zoned properly to host the facilities.
If the city doesn't pass laws saying where the grow-ops are permitted, Taylor said applications could be permitted in several zones, including agricultural and aggregate lands, and the city couldn't legally stop them. That's why staff is recommending the city pass bylaws now, before they have to deal with an application.
Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour, who chairs the committee, compared it to rules governing the location of cell towers and solar panels, which are federal jurisdictions. Up until recently, cities could only provide comment on where they were erected, not approve or deny applications.
“There's some misconception out there that the city can decide who and when,” Kilgour said. “The actual licensing is done through the federal government. The only input we have is how we zone it and where these operations will be permitted.”
New federal rules that took effect April 1 banned the small grow-ops that have supplied medical pot users for more than a decade. Those smaller operations were largely ungoverned, and many operated in the middle of residential areas – much to the irritation of neighbours forced to put up with the smell and noise the operations produced.
Neighbours of one such grow-op that operated out of Val Therese attended Monday's meeting to describe what they have endured under the old system. While not opposed to medical marijuana in principle, Patrick Slack said the smell coming from the grow-op next door was unbearable.
“It was above and beyond what any human being should be asked to deal with,” Slack said.
But Guy Charbonneau, an approved grower who operates out of the Flour Mill, said he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars ensuring his facility was vented properly, emitted no smells and that his product was safe.
“It's the best medicine there is in the world,” Charbonneau said, inviting members of the committee to come and tour his King Street operation. “I run a top-notch facility and I make sure it's healthy medicine.”
He's concerned that moving the production facilities to industrial areas won't be good for the plants, since they may be affected by the chemicals.
But a proponent for one of the unidentified operators interested in setting up shop in Sudbury said the most important thing for them was to have clear rules to follow.
“We will follow your guidelines in every way possible,” Bob Bateman said, adding the industry could become an economic engine for Greater Sudbury. “A 75-metre or 150-metre (buffer) is fine.”
While approved by the committee, the new rules must still be ratified by city council to become law.