Red Deer City Council has approved a site exception that paves the way for a medical marijuana facility to move forward.
However, the owners of MedCan Solutions Inc. still have to go through an 18 to 24-month application process with Health Canada.
Following a lengthy public hearing Monday night, Council voted 4 - 3 on both second and third readings to allow the facility at 94 Burnt Park Drive.
The proposal initially died on first reading back in July before being revived by Councillor Paul Harris in August and subsequently passed.
Most of the concerns heard during Monday's public hearing were around odour and crime.
MedCan co-owner assured Council and those concerned that her company is going above and beyond in their efforts to keep odour outside the building non-existent. The company has committed to using carbon filters on top of the federally regulated hepa filters they are required to use. They'll also be doing more genetic testing which means smaller plants and they won't be selling the strains at the facility. What they manufacture will be shipped to other facilities for retail purposes.
Konschuk was asked by Councillor Lawrence Lee what he would smell standing 25 feet from the building. Konschuk responded by saying he'd probably smell the diesel truck driving down the road.
Konschuk also responded to the concerns about crime by noting the multi-barrier security system and 24/7 security they are required to have.
"I'm really glad these issues of security and crime have been brought up tonight," she said. "I think this is an excellent opportunity and positive for this industry going forward."
Suzanne Dietrich, Office Manager at Nor-Ag Ltd., which is just outside the 100 metre radius of neighbouring businesses which were automatically notified about the proposal, says she was on the fence going in.
"I came trying to get more information and heard a lot of good information in regards to odour. As far as Fort Knox, the fence and having multi-barrier protection, well if it's coming here, we welcome you," said Dietrich. "Hopefully we can give Council and the City a little bit of an understanding of where we are with the issues that we face."
Dietrich said the City is non-responsive most of the time when it comes to policing in that area. She also wished her businesses would've been included in the initial round of notifications.
"Nobody know's we're here," she exclaimed.
Following third reading, Dietrich welcomed the ladies from MedCan to the neighbourhood and even invited them to a future community BBQ.
Others, like Matt Watson with Watson and Watson Resources Ltd., weren't as convinced. Watson's company holds a number of properties in the Burnt Lake area and says there needed to be a deeper investigation into finding more comparable sites to the one proposed.
"For us to be using the Smiths Falls [Ontario] example is grossly inappropriate," he said. "You've got a situation there with a large expanse of land [47 acres] and something here that's relatively condensed [4-acres]. I raised a number of issues around proximity as it relates to odour and 100 metres is nothing."
Watson says the problem with Council's decision is they're agreeing to more policing after the fact in the sense they'll go after MedCan for being non-compliant if and when there is any odour.
Allan Fertig, Owner of Allan Dale Trailers and RV's which is about half a kilometre from the approved site, focused most of his speech to Council on the lack of policing in the area.
"Our concern has been to make sure policing increases, if we even see policing now. I don't think there's a person proud in Red Deer that we're the second highest crime-rated city in Canada. We shouldn't be proud of that."
Asked if he thought the medical marijuana facility could work, Fertig said, "Absolutely, if there's effort put towards it, in regards to policing." Fertig and others who spoke against the proposal made it clear they weren't against medical marijuana, but rather they were against this particular site.
Councillor Frank Wong also voted no for site-related reasons. He pointed out there's properly zoned land just a, "half-mile up the road," albeit with medical marijuana facility as a discretionary use.
Konschuk told him maybe they'd move there in the future.
Other no votes came from Tanya Handley and Buck Buchanan. Handley was still concerned with setting a spot-zoning precedent and added that because she'd heard opposition from the majority of nearby businesses, she was leaning towards not supporting the proposal.
Mayor Tara Veer and Councillor Dianne Wyntjes abstained from the public hearing and subsequent votes due to conflicts of interest. Veer withdrew from the discussion after previously being approached by the applicant. Wyntjes withdrew herself because she has a relative who owns land near the p
Councillor Ken Johnston was the only one to ultimately change his vote from the original 4-4 split decision back in July. On that occasion, Dianne Wyntjes voted for the proposal and did not abstain.
Following third reading Monday night, Council passed an additional resolution moved by Paul Harris stating, "Council of The City of Red Deer, having considered the concerns of property owners in the Queens Industrial Park, hereby directs that a report be brought back to Council within four weeks outlining the steps that could be taken to respond to concerns related to crime, policing, and safety."
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