By Blake Ellis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The owners of an Enniskillen greenhouse are worried new zoning rules to limit commercial cannabis production will limit their options to rent the facility.
Enniskillen Township passed changes to its official plan Aug. 21 aimed at limiting where the operations can set up in the community after years of issues with High Park Farms on Lasalle Line.
The new rules says indoor operations would have to be on Agricultural or a Mixed Commercial Industrial zoned land. It would also keep the operation 300 meters from playgrounds, sporting venues, community centres, churches or any other place people gather and sleep.
Any cannabis operators would also need to submit plans to reduce light leakage from the greenhouse. They’ll also have to do studies on traffic impact, noise and air quality if the bylaw passes.
Councillor Mary Lynne McCallum is one of the councillors who pushed to have limits after the neighbours of the now closed High Park Farm cannabis operation on Lasalle Line complained of light pollution and heavy smells when the plants were being harvested. At the time the changes were proposed, McCallum said they were “purely preventative.”
But the new rules leave the owners of the greenhouse – Jack and Christine Greydanus of the Enniskillen Pepper Company – in a bind. And the company wants an exemption for the Lasalle Line greenhouse.
The Township of Enniskillen tabled the site specific bylaw amendment on Aug. 21 to continue to allow commercial cannabis cultivation on the property of Jack and Christine Greydanus on Lasalle Line and promised to discuss it again in a month.
Christine Greydanus told council she and her husband have invested significantly in the greenhouse when Tilray set up High Park Farms and now are being asked by neighbours who oppose a commercial cannabis operation to be downzoned.
“The conduct of our tenant was unacceptable,” said Greydanus, and the tenant modified its practices once complaints were made.
They intended to be good neighbours, said Jack Greydanus, but this ‘failed miserably.’
Still, Greydanus believes a commercial cannabis should be allowed on the property since one had existed in the past.
Trevor Brand – who mother lives right across the road from the greenhouse – said many of the things put in place on the property to deal with light pollution, noise and odour didn’t work when High Park Farms was still operating.
He said there has also been significant loss in property values to many neighbouring properties. “Not to mention the mental stress which has brought my mom and I to our breaking point,” said Brand, as his voice cracked and the large number of supporters in the council chamber applauded.
Council gave the green light to the zoning bylaw amendments for commercial cannabis production regulations and endorsed the proposed official plan amendments at the meeting. The official plan amendments will be submitted to the County of Lambton for approval.
But it put off a decision on allowing commercial cannabis operations to continue on the Lasalle Line property until its Sept. 18th meeting.