MD looks to limit Medical Marijuana locations

Foothills: Open houses planned on new Land Use Bylaw

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 02:18 pm

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MD Land Use Bylaw open house dates

• April 29, 2014 - Scott Seaman Centre
• May 1, 2014 – Priddis Community Hall
• May 6, 2014 – Municipal Office in High River
• May 8, 2014 – Longview Community Hall

Medical marijuana producers looking to set up shop in the foothills could be restricted to locations in the Aldersyde Industrial corridor.

The proposal is part of a major revamp of the MD of Foothills’ land use bylaw, which will also see the number of residential land use areas expanded and new rules to discourage development in flood areas.

Under the proposed changes, medical marijuana producers will only be allowed as a discretionary use in areas zoned as Direct Control #2.

MD Reeve Larry Spilak said the MD is trying to be prepared for the potential producers will look to locate in the foothills area with the changes. If medical marijuana is produced in the foothills, he said the Aldersyde industrial corridor is the most appropriate area.

He said MD councilors aren’t keen to medical marijuana producers set up shot in the area, but recent changes to federal laws regulating the production of medical marijuana laws allow people to get into the businesses of growing the drug.

“We may be forced into it because these permits are approved by the federal government,” said Spilak.

In addition to limiting medical marijuana to the Aldersyde industrial area, the MD’s land use changes will ensure marijuana production will not be allowed in residential areas. As well, it will not be allowed in proximity to certain other facilities, such as schools, childcare facilities or recreation facilities.

The MD will also outline conditions medical marijuana producers will be required to meet under the municipal planning processes, such as landscaping, signage, parking, access and delivery.

The proposed changes to the land use bylaw will be the subject of four open houses planned over the next couple weeks, with the first at the Scott Seaman Arena in Heritage Heights on April 29. Additional meetings will be held in Priddis on May 1, High River on May 6 and in Longview on May 8.

Rules regarding the production of medical marijuana in Canada changed significantly when new federal regulations came into effect at the end of March. The rules have forced municipalities to bring in new regulations for how they will deal with new medical marijuana production facilities that look to open within their borders. Under the new federal rules, people with prescriptions for marijuana will no longer be able to grow it themselves. This leaved federally licensed producers as the only legal source of medical marijuana.

Federal regulations outline a long list of rules for licensed producers, regarding building standards, and operating practices and strict security measures for licenses production facilities. Licensed producers must also provide details of their operations with local police and production will not be allowed in homes. The federal government is also requiring producers to follow municipal zoning laws.

MD planner Coreena Carr said they don’t have a date set for when the new land use bylaw will be presented to council for a decision. After the open houses are complete, she said the MD will review feedback and present it to council to see if there are any changes that need to be made.

“Ideally we’d like to have it done by the end of the year, but a lot of that depends on the comments and concerns we get,” she said.

The MD’s existing land use bylaw has been in place since 1999. There have been a number of amendments over the years, including the Dark Sky rules brought in to limit light pollution, but the bylaw has not been significantly updated for almost 15 years.

Carr said the MD has spent the last couple years reviewing it and it needs to be rewritten to keep it in line with other changes the MD has made over the years, including the adoption of the new municipal development plan in 2010.

“We’ve been working on this for a couple of years, doing a full review,” she said.

In addition to the Medical Marijuana provisions, the MD is proposing the creation of a number of new land use districts.

Carr said a number of new commercial and industrial land use areas, such as the proposed general industry district, is designed with industrial growth in the Aldersyde area in mind.

The MD is also looking at creating two new residential land use areas – multi-family and country estate residential zone.

At present, the MD only has three different residential areas under its land use rules, country residential, cluster residential and hamlet residential. Areas zones as cluster residential can have a housing density of up to 0.25 units per acre and Hamlet areas can have a density of up to 10 units per acre. The proposed country estate zoning will allow a moderate housing density of up to five units per acre, similar to what exists in towns in the foothills.

“So a lot of areas like Sandstone Springs, Sirocco and those developments would all fit under that kind of density,” said Carr. “It’s just because the trend seems to be to have a lot more desire for that kind of development and council seems to be approving a lot more of them.”

The MD is also proposing a new land use zone for flood hazard protection, that was developed after last year’s flood.

“It’s an attempt to discourage development on lands that are subject to flooding and that’s including trying to identify lands that were affected by the 2013 flood,” she said.


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