Thursday, July 25, 2024

Local Businessman Inching Closer to Green Light for Medical Marijuana Grow Facility

By Stephen Vance, Staff

med pot sv468

As promised, Meaford staff quickly completed and submitted to council a study relating to zoning and land use considerations for potential medical marijuana production facilities within the municipality, and local businessman Rob Gardner is hoping that the process continues to move quickly in order for him to move forward with his plans for a new business.

At their June 9 meeting, councillors received a report from Director of Planning and Building Rob Armstrong. In the report, prepared by municipal planner Liz Buckton, the municipal planners provided an exhaustive study with recommendations for the implementation of policies that would ensure that medical marijuana production facilities can be established in Meaford.

The next step in the process will be a public meeting in which the public can review the proposed policies and offer comment.

The public will also have an opportunity to share their opinions about a specific location already identified as a potential medical marijuana production facility, which is seeking consideration for approval though the site may not meet all of the criteria in the soon-to-be established policies.

Through the establishment of the Interim Control By-law, Planning Staff became formally aware of a proposed location for a Medical Marihuana facility located at 205786 Highway 26 within the former Gardner Cold Storage building. This proposed facility would not comply with the proposed Zoning provisions as it relates to setbacks from adjacent residential uses, however considering the former use of this property, it was noted that consideration may be given under this process provided they could address the land use planning impact concerns,” said the staff report.

It is anticipated that the public meeting will be held in July.

Gardner gave The Independent a tour of his existing 18,000 square foot facility, which was previously used as a cold storage and juice-making facility for Meaford’s apple industry.

Gone are the days when more than 50 trucks visited the facility each day during the autumn season, transporting Meaford’s most identifiable agricultural product to destinations far and wide. When industry conditions began to change, surviving in the apple business became more difficult, and so Gardner has been seeking alternate uses for his building.

The thick concrete, windowless cold storage rooms lend themselves perfectly to the establishment of secure growing and processing rooms, while the size of the building would allow for substantial growth once the facility is in operation. Gardner says that more than $1.5 million will be spent to renovate and secure the property and buildings in order to meet strict Health Canada guidelines.

Health Canada regulations are really strict,” Gardner told The Independent during the tour of his facility. “We have to meet security and site placement criteria, and we have to meet with the zoning policies with the municipality, which we are doing now.”

Gardner says that he has been pleased with the significant level of support for the proposed facility from members of the community, and he is hopeful that he will soon be able to move forward with his new business plans quickly.

One of the common questions when any new business is established is the impact it will have on existing neighbours. Gardner notes that a medical marijuana production facility will be a nearly invisible neighbour when compared to its previous life as an apple storage facility.

This building has been here since 1974, since before the houses on either side were there,” explained Gardner. “It will be a lot less traffic (than in the past). We had 50 to 100 trucks per day coming through here 24 hours per day in the fall. The new business would have one or two trucks per week.”

Gardner also noted that the loud roof-top blowers required when the facility was used for apple storage will not be required to grow marijuana, and the property will be secured with fencing and security cameras. There would be no on-site sales to patients as all transactions would be conducted online and deliveries made by Canada Post.

Initially Gardner anticipates five to eight new jobs will be created in the first phase of his new business, with more jobs created in the future as the company expands.

Popular this week

Latest news