No objections or concerns were voiced during a public hearing about a proposed change to Sackville’s zoning bylaw that would permit the development of small cannabis grow-ops in agricultural areas in the community.
The public hearing was held during town council’s June 10 meeting, giving residents and members of council an opportunity to find out more about a request from local resident Dan Fillmore to amend the bylaw to incorporate micro cultivation as a permitted use in the agriculture/conservation zone.
“Right now, there’s a complete prohibition in agricultural areas on the growing of controlled substances,” said Tracey Wade, a planner with the Southeast Regional Service Commission.
The only settings in which cannabis growing operations are currently permitted are industrial zones. Wade explained 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 should be treated as such.
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.
So with the idea that cannabis cultivation is generally to be considered similar to growing of other crops, Wade said when the applicant came in and asked the town to consider a micro-cultivation proposal, it was decided to take a look at what was permitted and what wasn’t.
“It’s micro so it’s limited in size and scope,” she said.
The request went to the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee for its views and recommended the town make the necessary changes to its zoning bylaw, which would include: 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.
“By defining micro cultivation and standard cultivation, the town can be more explicit with how the two types of operations are treated and where they should be located,” she said.