Cannabis plants at CannTrust's Fenwick grow operation nearing harvest, June 2019. The distinctive yellow lighting tint is intended to simulate late summer sunlight. VOICE

A Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) case management conference has been scheduled for 10 AM on June 29, initiated by cannabis growers CannTrust, Redecan, and Woodstock Biomed (a subsidiary of Leviathan Cannabis), against the Town of Pelham. At issue is Pelham’s cannabis-related Official Plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment, approved by Town Council last summer.

The case management conference will deal with preliminary issues, including the identification of parties involved, matters in dispute that may benefit from mediation, establishment of a start date and duration of the hearings, receiving of motions, and directions for prefiling of witness lists, expert witness statements, and written evidence.

Lawyers for the growers and the Town are expected to meet before the conference to consider a draft procedural order. The tribunal will issue a disposition following the event that will set out the directions of the case. A copy of this decision may be obtained from the tribunal’s website (https://olt.gov.on.ca/tribunals/lpat/e-decisions/) by referencing case number LPAT PL200426.

Tim Nohara, Chair of Pelham’s Cannabis Control Committee, told the Voice that the cannabis producers filed with LPAT last summer, after the Town approved the management plan and zoning amendments.

“The official plan and bylaw amendments are proactive instruments to better manage future cannabis. It certainly has an impact on expanding cannabis, but the primary impact would be on future cannabis,” said Nohara.

Should the cannabis producers take a position that they expect their product to be treated as a typical agricultural crop, Nohara thinks that the Town would welcome that posture, “because agricultural products are managed…we have minimum distance separation, so you’re not going to have a giant chicken or pig farm show up within a couple hundred metres of a dense residential area.”

The challenge, said Nohara, is that when cannabis was sprung upon municipalities, there wasn’t yet provincial or federal efforts to define minimum standards, so cannabis operations appeared anywhere, often very close to urban and rural settlements. “That’s the issue. That’s why we have coexistence problems,” said Nohara, who estimates that 200 to 300 local jobs have been provided by cannabis producers.

I don’t think anybody is holding their breath, thinking that this is going to be done this year

“These products require a lot of hands to manage the product,” said Nohara, who acknowledged that many workers were earning low wages.

“I don’t think anybody is holding their breath, thinking that this is going to be done this year,” said Nohara. “My guess is this will get scheduled a year from now.”

In the meantime, it will be business as usual for Redecan and CannTrust.

“Essentially, what happens is the interim control bylaw is extended,” said Nohara, “so there’s no new development allowed. But operations already in place can continue at the current level, with no expansion.”

Nohara noted that this past this spring, the cannabis producers also filed notices to quash Pelham’s odour bylaw.

“Hopefully, we’ll see convergence towards coexistence, which would be good for everybody,” said Nohara.

The tribunal will be held via video-conference. Residents may observe the proceedings at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/567785085. Persons who only wish to listen to the event can connect by telephone at 1-888-455-1389 (Toll Free) or 1-647-497-9391. The access code is 567-785-085.