Concerns about odors and noise prevented Red Deer city council from taking the first step towards allowing a potential cannabis production facility to locate in light industrial parks.
While council was willing to explore having more cannabis retail sites in the city — the majority of councillors drew the line at loosening zoning rules for a cannabis producer.
Odour problems from the Sundial Growers Inc. plant in Olds were brought up as a good reason to keep any cannabis plants that want to locate in Red Deer in heavy industrial zones only, and away from neighbourhoods.
Mayor Tara Veer, as well as Buck Buchanan, Tanya Handley, Vesna Higham, and Lawrence Lee voted against asking administration to explore the ins and outs of allowing these plants to locate as a discretionary use in light industrial locations.
Veer said she’s spoken to the mayor of Olds, who is “completely frustrated” by his local situation.
A quick internet search by Coun. Tanya Handley turned up at least four other Canadian communities that had similar odour complaints about their local cannabis production plant.
Lee said the problem is the federal government doesn’t have specifications for what kind of odour-reducing equipment these companies are supposed to install, or parameters “for what they are trying to accomplish with these odour controls.”
While Councillors Frank Wong, Dianne Wyntjes, Michael Dawe and Ken Johnston didn’t want to stand in the way of administration looking into an idea that could help bring a large new employer to the city — the majority on council decided that until odour-reduction technology improves, Red Deer shouldn’t look at loosening zoning rules for marijuana producers.
The city’s licensing and inspections manager Erin Stuart had also asked council for direction about pursuing regulati0ns that would widen the number of spots where cannabis retailers can locate in the city.
There are now about 35 spots identified as potential locations, but Stuart recommended that cannabis sales become a discretionary use in the same areas where liquor can be sold — in malls, district shopping centres and areas such as Capstone/Riverlands.
Potential locations would then increase to about 59. Stuart noted the same rules about staying 300 metres away from schools and day cares would apply.
Veer remained conflicted about expanding cannabis sales locations, even though no concerns have been expressed about the six cannabis retailers now operating in the city.
In the end, she sided with the majority on council who felt it the idea was worth at least exploring.