Anyone looking to open a cannabis growing or production operation in Wellington North in the next year is out of luck. The township won't be taking any new applications until at least the fall of 2022.
Council passed an interim control bylaw prohibiting the establishment of new commercial and medical cannabis production facilities for a one-year period at its Monday meeting. Staff will use the breathing room to undertake a study of potential new rules to regulate where and how the operations can be set up, taking into consideration noise, odour, water usage, security and traffic.
"Ultimately I think the goal of the study would be come up with some recommendations for council to consider," manager of development planning, Curtis Marshall told council, noting those could involve zoning changes or updated to application requirements.
Staff will also look at best practices from other municipalities as part of the study.
Mayor Andy Lennox introduced the idea for the new regulations at a meeting earlier this summer, where earlier in the afternoon council voted to deny an application for an indoor cannabis cultivation and processing facility in Arthur.
In June, three months after the township held a public meeting on the application, police seized over 7,500 plants, along with money and marijuana processing equipment from the same address on Wells Street West. Four people from Scarborough and Markam were charged in connection.
On Monday, Coun. Steve McCabe, asked whether the application freeze and potential new regulations would " prevent what just went on from ever happening again." He later confirmed he was talking about the incident on Wells Street West.
Mayor Andy Lennox noted "all the best policies and procedures in the world won’t stop illegal (activity)," but the study accompanying policy changes would ensure the township is well-equipped to deal with future legitimate applications.
"I think that’s the purpose of this is to try to get ahead of the changing landscape of cannabis production," Lennox said.
The interim control bylaw does not effect the two existing cannabis production facilities in Wellington North, nor does it prohibit the establishment of new provincially licensed retail cannabis stores. The growing of cannabis plants at home for personal recreational use as permitted by the federal Cannabis Act is still allowed.
Alison Sandstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com