Zoning proposal to allow medical marijuana facilities

City planners are proposing new zoning to allow federally-licenced medicinal marijuana facilities to set up in Ottawa's industrial areas.

Ottawa city planners suggest licenced medical marijuana facilities in industrial zones

Ottawa's planning committee will consider a new zoning proposal that would allow federally-licensed medicinal marijuana facilities to set up in the city's industrial areas. 

City planners drafted the proposal after Health Canada changed the system through which patients obtain medicinal marijuana.

Rob Vanderkuip, owner of a laminating and braille signage company called Terra Reproductions, says he prefers commercial growers of medical marijuana. (Kate Porter/CBC)
Patients will no longer be able to get licences to grow plants in homes as of Apr. 1, 2014. Instead,  licenced commercial growers will produce and ship medicinal marijuana directly to patients.

Given the prospect companies could set up in the Ottawa area, planners determined the facilities are more like pharmaceutical manufacturing plants than a greenhouses, and should be allowed in industrial rather than agricultural zones. 

Since residents expressed fears that fumes or odours could emanate from the growing of marijuana, planners suggested no facility be located within 150-metres of a residential or institutional area, even though they said federal regulations should ensure no odour escapes.

No new industrial zones: planners

The 150-metre buffer means some small industrial areas in the centre of the city will be off limits entirely.

Maps of the areas where medical marijuana facilities would be allowed show many small zones dotting Ottawa's rural countryside, as well as established industrial areas, such as where technology firms are located in Kanata North and an industrial park at Colonnade Road.

"We are not rezoning additional industrial lands to accommodate this use," said city planner Carol Ruddy. "There are already general manufacturing and light industrial uses and heavy industrial uses permitted in these locations and this is just another use that will also be permitted."

24-hour security for marijuana producers: business owner

One business owner in an industrial park along Sheffield Road supported the proposal that marijuana production be added to the area's zoning.

Ottawa city planners drafted a proposal to allow medical marijuana production facilities in industrial zones.
​"You don't want your neighbour next door growing marijuana," said Rob Vanderkuip, owner of a laminating and braille signage company called Terra Reproductions. "But if it was in a separate building in this industrial area, that would not bother me."

Vanderkuip said he hoped any medicinal marijuana facility would have 24-hour security in case the business attracted the wrong people. On the whole, he preferred Health Canada's new system of commercial growers to the previous one of allowing plants to be grown in residential areas. 

"At least you know where they're growing it. They're not growing it in one of my houses in Barrhaven, so you have that control factor," Vanderkuip said.

Planning committee is expected to consider the report to amend the zoning on Tuesday.