GROW-OPS REVISITED

Do any of you remember seeing the photo above? It was taken during the last Municipal election, three years ago. It was a big deal at the time: folks on Hurricane Road were upset, Council candidates vowed measures, presentations were made to Council, and…

…and the issue surrounding it hasn’t been mentioned in Council in public since then.

The reason for all the fuss at the time was that this property had supposedly been purchased for the purpose of turning it into a marijuana grow-op. People argued that it’s in a residential area just down the road from a school and it would cause too much traffic on the rural road, that the production processes and ¬†bi-products stink, and that security wouldn’t be good enough. I don’t how many of these points would be proven to be right, but I agree that it isn’t the place for it.

City staff, however, pointed out that the area was zoned for agricultural land uses and, since things like greenhouses and their grow-op cousins are considered under the Planning Act to be agricultural uses, their hands were tied.

So what can we do, they were asked. And they told us. There’s a new comprehensive zoning bi-law in the works, so stipulate that this type of enterprise can only go in certain areas of the City.

What happened? The election was over, the grow-op fell through, the new comprehensive zoning bi-law was put together, and everybody forgot about it.

Until the last Council meeting. Councillors wanted to know, what with the new federal pot legalization going into effect next Canada Day, what were we going to do about the restriction of grow-ops? Staff had an answer: they might be able to pass an amendment to the comprehensive zoning bi-law.

If you’ve never followed the process before, it requires staff to come up with the wording, that wording to be passed, public consultation to be held, waiting for comments from a dozen or so agencies including the region, a public meeting, a report to the General Committee and, finally, passage into law by City Council and Regional council. And before that, if no one on staff is familiar with the particular issue, they’ll have to OK the hiring of a consultant, put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant, choose one, and OK it in Council.

Will that take long? Let’s just say that, if they wanted it in place for next July, they should have pursued it right after the last election and included it in the comprehensive zoning bi-law.

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