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Proposed cannabis facility doesn't get high marks at Wellington North meeting

Odour in nearby residential area and uncertainty around water consumption were the biggest concerns raised about proposal
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WELLINGTON NORTH – Wellington North council and neighbours are unsure about the implications of an indoor cannabis facility, particularly in regards to odour and water use. 

CCR Holdings Wells St. Inc. are proposing to retrofit an existing 17,000 sq. ft building in an industrial area of Arthur to become an indoor cannabis cultivation and processing facility.

At a Monday evening public meeting, Ashley Barter, planner with Malone Given Parsons, said the client intends to have medical licensed tenants growing but is asking for the flexibility with a bylaw amendment to allow for commercial operations in the future.

The plant is estimated to be able to handle around 440 cannabis plants. The operation is proposed to be contained in the existing building with no site alterations planned at this time. 

While there is no standard policy used by Wellington North in regards to these applications, Barter said there will be no outdoor cultivation or storage and it is a reasonable distance from any schools or residential areas.

“The proposed operation does fit many of the standards that have been adopted by other municipalities,” Barter said.

John Vanderwoerd, who lives on Duke Street near this proposal, was concerned about the potential for smells in their backyard. 

“My wife loves gardening and if it smells like cannabis, she won’t be happy and I won’t be happy,” Vanderwoerd said. “I don’t want to keep complaining about the smell all year round. If it smells, I will be complaining.”

He also figured a 440-plant operation would require a lot of water and questioned if the town could handle that along with new housing developments.

Francois Vallerand, general manager at Golden Valley Farms next to the proposed facility, shared the same concern regarding water. 

He noted the plant has trouble attracting employees because the town isn’t growing fast enough.

“Water was always the reason why new construction wasn’t happening and now we are going to be using that water for cannabis ... I’m sorry we’re going in the wrong direction,” Vallerand said. 

Planner Lincoln Lo said he wasn’t aware how much water each cannabis plant would use and odour mitigation requirements would depend on if it becomes a commercial operation or not. 

He explained personal use operations have minimal mitigation requirements but did mention the landlord is committed to carbon filters to handle odours. 

However, he said he thinks an odour study would be a good idea.

Mayor Andy Lennox also had reservations and said the application seemed too open ended whether it will be a personal, medical or commercial operation. 

Lennox said he’s sensitive to neighbouring land owners and mentioned there are likely better and more rural places in the township for this kind of operation.

No decisions were made on this application at the public meeting.