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Council prepares for industrial grow ops

Council passed first and second reading to a bylaw that will allow medical marijuana grow operations to be located in an industrial zone in the city.

The move comes in anticipation of new federal regulations concerned with licensing of medical marijuana grow operations.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said up until now Ottawa has set the locations, but under the new federal legislation it will soon be under the authority of municipalities.

"We need some bylaws to deal with where they're going to go," Stetski said, noting that council had spoken to MP David Wilks on the matter. "MP Wilks's recommendation was probably we should be trying to limit this to industrial zones, so that you don't have medical marijuana grow operations in residential areas around Cranbrook."

Coun. Gerry Warner said he has mixed feelings about the medical marijuana industry.

"Certainly forty years ago when I was in university, I never smoked cigarettes in my life, but I did my share of pot smoking there for a few years," Warner said. "I sure never thought I'd see the day that I'd be sitting on a council somewhere, in Cranbrook, helping to legislate a place to grow this stuff, which was then highly illegal."

Warner asked where could be a better place to grow pot than Cranbrook, which is touted as the sunniest place in B.C.

The pending regulations are based on Health Canada requirements and require a minimum 100 metre setback for medical marijuana grow operations within the M-2 Industrial Zone from a residential zone, school, child-care facility, playground or park use, intended to minimize potential land use conflicts.

A grow op will also need to meet federal, provincial and municipal regulations, as well as notify the local RCMP and Fire Services in writing of an application.

The grow operation and storage needs to be fully contained within an enclosed building – which excludes a greenhouse building, and which does not include any other non-grow op use.

The operations will also need to provide details of proposed discharges to air, sanitary and storm sewer, including plans and details of the ventilation/filtration system for air discharges to the outside as part of their application. This is to minimize potentially obnoxious odours.

"Regardless of how you feel about the whole marijuana thing, we need to be prepared if someone comes and applies for an application. We need to know what to do and how to handle it," said Coun. Diana J. Scott. "I think it's a necessary thing to do and it's important that we know where they are and where we want them. It's a fact of life that there may be one or two here so we need to know how to deal with it."

Stetski said another point was that the medical marijuana grow ops already exist in the community, but only the federal government knows where the operations that are licensed are located.

"So what this does is it provides a lot more information to municipal services, in particular where these things are located," he said. "That's kind of where things are at, but that's where these things are located."

Coun. Sharon Cross spent a summer of working in the prairies sleeping next door to a medical grow operation's green house.

"The fans went 24-7 and the stench was incredible and they allowed it in a residential area," Cross said. "So I appreciate the work on trying to mitigate that."

The bylaw will be back for third reading, and likely, adoption, at the next meeting.

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