A proposed cannabis production plant in the Taymouth area is raising concerns among area residents.
The 15,000-square-foot plant would be located in neighbouring Zionville, about 32 kilometres north of Fredericton.
At a meeting of Regional Service Commission 11 on Wednesday night, several residents raised concerns about the indoor operation's impact on the environment, quality of life and property values.
The people behind the proposed cannabis plant are Mike Mackay and Janice Margaret Butt, according to the planning documents, but they did not participate in the public meeting.
In statements at the meeting, Ashley Brown, a regional development officer with the commission, said the cannabis plant would employ six to 10 people full time and four to six people part time.
But the potential jobs didn't seem to sway those who logged onto the Zoom meeting to discuss the plan, which requires rezoning of some land from rural to industrial.
Smell, water concerns
Dena Corey of Zionville said she's convinced that her property value will go down if the grow-op is allowed, but her biggest concern was the potential for odour from the cannabis.
"I know they say there will be no smells and will be all regulated, but I don't trust that," said Corey.
"I have asthma and it's a big concern for me."
In the proposed amendments to the zoning documents, there is a section mandating that "the applicant shall apply measures to mitigate odour and noise."
Some residents were concerned about the amount of water the cannabis operation would use.
The planning documents list the amount of daily water usage at the plant wouldn't exceed 1,200 litres per day, noting it's less than what a four-person household uses per day.
Some questioned how the usage would be policed, but others were concerned what any amount of water usage could do to the water in their homes.
Geraldine Hunter-Evans said her water isn't the best now.
"I think it's a very great concern in this area for the groundwater,," said Hunter-Evans. "Our well had to be drilled more than 100 feet deep when my husband's mother owned this property.
"We have an extensive filtration system here to deal with E. coli and coliform that were in the water system."
Brown said no environmental impact assessment had been conducted on the plan.
A common refrain was concern about how the plant would affect the quality of life in the rural area of the province.
Marcella Emberger said she moved to the area specifically because of the rural nature and is worried that industrial development will change that nature.
"We did not move here for our land to be turned into an industrial area," she said.
Yvette Swan, minister at the Taymouth United Church, said she took a poll of her congregants and found "100 per cent" were opposed to the rezoning of the property to industrial to allow for the cannabis facility to be built.
"Putting an industrial area in the middle of a residential area, for us it doesn't matter what it is, [it] is not conducive to the area,"
"Considering that a number of the members are retired or semi-retired and the younger members who are moving into the area with young children, we don't believe that it is good for them to be having to put up with such a situation at this time at all."
Because of the pandemic, the meeting was held via Zoom, which led to concerns that many voices went unheard because of poor internet in the area or because older people might not be familiar with the video conferencing software.
David Stewart said any decision on the cannabis operation should be postponed until an in-person meeting can be held.
"I think to have it held by a computer meeting and three minutes to respond is ridiculous at a time of COVID-19," he said.
"We still live in a democracy. I think it's time that we hold this whole process off until we've had a public meeting and everybody can voice their opinions in a little more time than three minutes."
Residents have until July 29 to submit written submissions to the commission. After that, the proposal will go to the Local Government Minister Jeff Carr, who makes the final decision.