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Decision on proposed cannabis production operation delayed again


December 1, 2020
By Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum

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Saskatchewan – A proposed cannabis production facility near the Regional Muncipality of Edenwold, Sask., has been tabled for the second time, as the proponent seeks to deal with local opposition to the plan, including concerns about the area’s water table and potential impact of a commercial well on existing wells.

More than 20 people sent written submissions to RM council ahead of the Oct. 13 public hearing on the project, all opposed to the proposed cannabis cultivation facility. They opposed it on fears it could attract crime to their areas and that the business was better suited for an industrial park. They also noted concern for the area’s water table, and that their wells would be negatively impacted by a commercial well in their area during dry periods.

Project proponent Ian Cameron attended the meeting to address the concerns of residents, none whom appeared to show up for the in-person hearing.

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(Residents) noted concern for the area’s water table, and that their wells would be negatively impacted by a commercial well in their area during dry periods.

He said the wastewater would be recovered and reused, limiting the impact to other residents.

“Water is containered, so it won’t cause a drain on area wells,” Cameron said. “We only have 1,000 square feet. I’m pretty sure cattle consume more water than we will.”

The proposal includes 1,000 square-feet of growing space. While this would be the fourth application to the RM of Edenwold for a cannabis cultivation project, none of them have actually moved ahead once approved by council, reeve Mitchell Huber said. RM planner Jessica Mitchell said it takes a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through and heavy capital investment and commitment in order to get a cannabis cultivation legally approved.

“This is the kind of thing that sounds like a good idea over Thanksgiving turkey, that our family should start a cannabis micro-cultivation site, but it takes a lot of time on our desk and council’s time but I guess that’s the situation we are in. I’m not far from frustrated because this application seems sort of frivolous.”

RM planning manager Jana Jedlic said some of the applications reaching their desk are in early stages, while others are more advanced.

“It seems frivolous for us to go through these approvals for applications that don’t make it past federal approval,” Mitchell added. “Our considerations are land-use compatibility, impacts on area residents and our (Official Community Plan). That’s really the scope of our review.”

Mitchell noted this plan did include having a full HVAC system capable of addressing concerns for cannabis odors, and as the business would not be a dispensary, and would likely only employ family members, traffic impacts to neighbouring properties would be low.

Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency will require the family’s well be recertified to ensure it complies with the requirements of a commercial well. The family will also have to address wastewater concerns, as their existing septic field is not suitable for industrial use.

“We have to find some way of addressing this because we have to understand what type of waste is produced and how to safely dispose of it,” Mitchell said. “In another application, there was a septic holding tank which would be acceptable. Those are things Health Canada looks at so we try not to overlap with what they regulate, but there are things we need to do, at least a surface-level investigation as a municipality so we aren’t creating undue effects on groundwater for nearby properties.”

When it came time to vote on the proposal, council deferred, noting the level of opposition. While Huber noted council has approved proposals for cannabis cultivation before, he felt it would be helpful if the Cameron family addressed their neighbours’ concerns with them directly and deal with possible misconceptions individually. The matter was put back on the council agenda on Oct. 27, but as letters written by the Camerons were in the process of being sent to neighbours, council tabled the matter to allow impacted residents to consider the contents of the letter.