By Mike Williscraft
An interim control bylaw for cannabis cultivation and production – with a term of one year – was approved at a special meeting of Lincoln council on Monday night.
The move was part of a meeting that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours and included two major staff reports and several delegations from Lincoln residents who voiced serious concerns on several topics.
As well, council opted to defer a vote on whether or not to be an opt in or opt out community for cannabis retail outlets.
The deadline for deciding on retail is Jan. 22. Council said they plan to seek more public input before pulling the trigger on a decision.
Much of the discussion at the meeting revolved around existing grow operations where there are major odour issues emanating through neighbourhoods.
On the topic of potentially opting into allowing retail in the municipality, councillors asked many questions of Luke Tucceri and Brian Barbadoro,
who spoke as a delegation to the meeting.
While the duo outlined safety, legal and financial benefits to allowing cannabis retail in the community, council members had many questions about everything from store hours to how they would market product to how the 19-year-old minimum age would be monitored on-site.
Tucceri said, if they eventually are awarded a location, age would be monitored at the door as a bar would do checking ID before someone enters. This could occur again when a customer goes to a window inside the shop to pay for their goods.
As for marketing, Tucceri said they are not permitted to do anything, no ads, no flyers. He said any marketing is limited to their storefront window – they operate Simply Vapes on Ontario Street in Beamsville, currently – and even that is severely limited.
Any infractions bring severe penalties, they said.
The recurring theme among the comments regarding interim control bylaw was the need gain control over issues having a negative impact on residents.
The repeated case in point was the grow-op on 15th Street in Jordan which was repeatedly castigated for greatly hampering many residents’ ability to be outdoors on their property and having the smell from the site.
“I knew the day they started,” said John Michael Dykstra, who said he looks out the window of his home to see the 15th Street grow op.
“It permeates my house. It permeates my life.”
While many at the meeting talked about having some form of bylaw in place to ensure such occurrences can’t happen, Dykstra noted the law is already in place at the federal level.
“It’s right there, in Section 61 of the Act,” Dykstra said, suggesting council just copy/paste the federal guideline to have zero odour emissions from grow sites and place it in as a bylaw. He said there would be zero legal homework to do as any grow-op would already have to adhere to the exact same guideline: nothing would be new.
When giving a staff report to council, CAO Mike Kirkopoulos said the main issue is enforcement.
“There shouldn’t be any odours. It is really up to Health Canada to enforce the law,” said Kirkopoulos.
Many residents, including Kristen Dias, Joyce and Harold Galenkamp and Tim Conway who all spoke as delegations, begged council for relief.
“There seems to be a wild west attitude (with some operators). I and many of my neighbours implore council to take action.
With the one-year freeze on new development in place, council will set about seeking remedies for current problems.
Council voted to make the ULinc program permanent at an annual cost of $298,000. It had been a pilot project in 2018 at a cost of $145,000.