Sackville moved a step closer to getting its first legal marijuana growing operation last week when town council held a formal public hearing on a proposal to set up a 2,150 square-foot cannabis greenhouse off Main Street near School Lane in Middle Sackville.
No one appeared before council to speak for or against the proposal put forward by Sackville residents Danny Fillmore and Sari Weinberg.
The couple have applied for permission to grow organic cannabis under a federal licence on agricultural land at the rear of their property.
Planner Tracey Wade told council that at a meeting last month, the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee (PRAC) passed a recommendation that Sackville change its zoning bylaw to permit such small-scale cannabis cultivation in areas that are zoned as agricultural/conservation.
“Cannabis cultivation generally is considered to be similar to the growing of other crops,” Wade told council. “It’s a growing of a product for human consumption, so it’s really hard to distinguish it between corn or other things.”
Wade added that the micro-cultivation of cannabis in a greenhouse with a 200 square-metre growing area would have a similar impact as a dairy barn whereas larger-scale or “standard” cultivation would not be appropriate in an agricultural zone.
“Standard cultivation, given that there’s no limit to size, the recommendation from staff is that it’s still considered more appropriate to be set up in an industrial zone,” she said.
In answer to a question from Councillor Shawn Mesheau, Wade acknowledged that one member of PRAC from the Cap-Pelé area voted against recommending a change in the zoning bylaw.
“I don’t even think it’s a formal application yet, but there’s talk about one of the largest outdoor cannabis growing operations being set up near Cap-Pelé, it’s a very sensitive topic,” Wade said. “We kept having to steer the discussion back to the issue of micro-cultivation in one specific zone,” she added.
Mesheau asked if there had been any concern about issues such as odour.
“The discussion was about that but again, the comparisons that were being made were some of the major operations in Quebec where there have been a lot of complaints,” Wade answered. “Again this is a micro [operation], so it’s limited in size and scope.”
According to Global TV News and the French-language newspaper L’Acadie Nouvelle, the Moncton-based company Solargram Farms is proposing to establish an open-air marijuana grow-op on 65-acres of land near Cap-Pelé.
Meantime, Sackville Town Council is expected to give first reading or approval-in-principle to the zoning change at its meeting next month with final approval likely in August.
To read earlier coverage, click here.
Vote on deputy mayor
Town council held its annual election for deputy mayor last week. Bruce Phinney nominated Shawn Mesheau for the post, while Joyce O’Neil nominated Ron Aiken, who has held the position for the past year.
In a show of hands, Mesheau received two votes, his and Phinney’s, while the other councillors voted for Aiken who will continue to serve as deputy mayor until the municipal election next year.