BY TIM NOHARA, COMMITTEE CHAIR
Special to The VOICE
Since late this May, your fellow residents and Cannabis Control Committee (CCC) members Carla Baxter, Jim Jeffs, James Steele, Bill Heska, John Langendoen, Louis Damm and myself have been meeting weekly, along with Councilor Mike Ciolfi and staff representative Barb Wiens to research and develop a suite of control measures designed to (a) help mitigate the adverse impacts of the CannTrust and Redecan cannabis production facilities (CPFs) and (b) ensure future CPFs are located and managed away from your homes, so they don’t add to the current problem, not the least of which has been a significant loss of enjoyment of many of your properties.
Please mark your calendar and be sure you attend these important meetings:
First, the Public Meeting for Proposed Cannabis Regulations, to be held on Tuesday September 10, at 5:30 PM at the Meridian Community Centre.
And second, the Pelham Town Council meeting scheduled for Monday, September 23, at 5:30 PM at Town Hall, where Council will likely vote on staff-proposed cannabis regulations and the CCC’s request to extend the Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) by one year, so that it can complete its work to develop cannabis regulations that will address your concerns. (Please check the Town’s website as this date could change.)
These are critical meetings that will either succeed or fail in addressing the concerns you have been raising. Don’t miss out—let your voices be heard. Your guidance is needed now more than ever.
The Public Meeting will present a package of staff-proposed cannabis regulations that staff has prepared, which can be found on the Town’s website at https://bit.ly/33ZXxvR
The Voice has asked me to comment on whether these staff-proposed cannabis regulations are the result of the CCC’s work, and, if not, how they differ from the CCC’s approach.
These staff-proposed cannabis regulations were prepared by Town staff, and the CCC saw most of them at the same time you saw them, when they were posted on the Town’s website last week. The CCC has provided some constructive comments on earlier drafts of the staff-proposed amendments to the zoning by-law and Official Plan, but our most serious concerns have not been addressed.
Furthermore, the CCC believes that these proposed regulations are insufficient to improve the existing CPF concerns. They do not ensure that new CPFs will be located sufficiently away from residents to prevent the same adverse impacts from occurring again.
In light of the above, the CCC is neither able to support nor recommend the present package of staff- prepared cannabis regulations.
The CCC’s approach in addressing the concerns of residents began with the establishment of several research groups to investigate everything from odour monitoring protocols (used in other industries to determine and confirm the existence and source of cannabis odours) to the unintended consequences of cannabis production specific to agriculture in Pelham, with the aid of Vineland Research Station and Brock University. We are investigating environmental / water contamination issues, financial costs to the community, health and safety, traffic, light, noise and other issues, as well as studying the best practices developed in other communities to mitigate these adverse impacts. The cannabis problem is new, and there is no doubt that the CCC and Pelham need to be leaders if we are to rectify the current situation.
We have developed a regulatory framework that not only guides our approach to developing cannabis controls, but provides a score card and performance metric to help us know when we are done. A draft of this framework was presented to Town Council on July 15, when the CCC requested a one-year extension to the ICBL.
The CCC is optimistic that it can work with staff to develop a more effective regulatory package than the one presently proposed, one which will respect residents and their rights as much as those of cannabis producers; but we simply need more time. It is not possible to complete our work before the ICBL expires on October 15. That is why we asked council for a one-year extension, which is afforded under the Planning Act. Niagara-on-the-Lake approved an identical one-year extension earlier this summer for the identical reason that we need it.
From the CCC’s perspective, the only sensible approach is to remove the artificial deadline presently looming over us by having council extend the ICBL for one year when they vote on September 23. Then the CCC can get on with completing the job that council tasked us to do on your behalf—to bring them recommendations in the form of resolutions that will address your concerns while ensuring that we have good planning justification for limits that are required on CPFs.
Our members look forward to speaking to you in person on September 10, and September 23. ♦
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