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First hurdle passed for proposed cannabis grow-op in Sackville

A public hearing will be held next Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. for an application to change the town's zoning bylaw to permit micro cultivation of cannabis in the agriculture/conservation zone.
Sackville town council has approved first and second reading to change the town's zoning bylaw to permit micro cultivation of cannabis in the agriculture/conservation zone. - File photo

Council approves first, second reading to change zoning bylaw to permit micro cultivation

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

The first step has been taken in the process to permit small cannabis grow-ops to be established in Sackville.

Town council approved first and second reading last week to a zoning bylaw amendment that will allow for micro-cultivation of cannabis as a permitted use in the community’s agriculture/conservation zones.

Coun. Bill Evans said he sees the amendment as a “pretty straightforward change” that recognizes the new federal cannabis legalization that came into effect last fall.

“What we’re doing is changing our zoning bylaw so that it makes sense, consistent with changes in federal regulation,” said Evans, “and any implementation will be done pursuant to federal regulations.”

“We’re just recognizing that things have changed and we’re responding appropriately,” he added.

Final reading is expected to come forward during next month’s town council meeting.

Coun. Bruce Phinney was the sole councillor to vote against the motion, saying he’s not “a fan of cannabis.”

“I did my share years ago but I don’t think it’s a good thing to be doing today,” he said. “So therefore, I don’t think we need to be having a place in the town that’s going to be growing it, let alone selling it.”

No objections or concerns were voiced during a public hearing that was held in June for the proposed change, which came forward as a result of an application by local resident Dan Fillmore allow for micro cultivation in the agriculture areas.

The request also went to the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee for its views and it recommended the town make the necessary changes to its zoning bylaw, which includes: removing the prohibition of growing of controlled substances in the definition of agricultural uses; adding definitions for micro and standard cultivation of cannabis uses; adding micro cultivation as a permitted use in the agriculture/conservation zone; and adding micro and standard cultivation as permitted uses in the industrial zone.

Currently, the zoning bylaw prohibits the growing of controlled substances in its definition of agricultural uses. The only settings in which cannabis growing operations are permitted are industrial zones. It was explained at the public hearing that the last review of the town’s zoning bylaw was conducted in 2016, several years before legalization came into effect countrywide; so the thought process at the time was that cannabis cultivation and processing were large-scale operations and so it made sense to confine them to industrial areas.

But when the Cannabis Act was introduced in October 2018, its regulations differentiated between three levels of cultivation – household level (limit of four plants), micro-cultivation (limit of about 2,000 square feet of production area), and standard cultivation (anything more than 2,000 square feet). The federal government regulates micro and standard cultivation operations through licensing.

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