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No stopping cannabis farm, Beckwith residents told

Municipal officials in Beckwith, Ont., told dozens of displeased residents Monday there's nothing they can do to stop a cannabis farm from setting up in the township.

Proposed 'spa' will be at different location, company says

Robin Garreau says she is worried about the lack of odour mitigation rules for outdoor cannabis facilities with current laws and what that will mean for neighbours like her. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Municipal officials in Beckwith, Ont., told dozens of displeased residents Monday there's nothing they can do to stop a cannabis farm from setting up in the township.

Burnstown Farms Cannabis Company has proposed an outdoor cannabis farm on rural land off of Ferguson Road in the township just south of Carleton Place.

The company's CEO, Mark Spear, defended the project at a town planning meeting Monday, saying it is following the rules as it applies for permits with Health Canada and figures out irrigation with the province.

Spear also said the site in question is meant to be a small farm and, despite previous reports, his company's "canna-tourism" and spa business will be at a different location. 

Mark Spear, CEO of Burnstown Farms Cannabis Company, defended his proposal for a farm in Beckwith, Ont., at a planning committee meeting Monday night. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Adam Powell, who lives with his family near the proposed site, said the opposition shows just because cannabis has been legalized, not everybody is necessarily on board.

"They're trying to jam in it like it's not bugging anybody," he said.

"I think the amount of people that showed up tonight really indicated that it's a much bigger issue than they think."

Not in his backyard

He said he and his wife poured their life savings into buying the property around his childhood home and he's worried how the pot farm will affect the area, which is becoming more residential.

"For me, it's property value and not wanting a grow op in my backyard for my kids," he said.

"It's not wanting to have any environment that would need that kind of security, no matter what it is."

Health Canada regulations require an eight-foot-high fence around the property, topped with barbed wire and equipped with motion detecting lights. 

Municipal officials told dozens of displeased residents Monday there's nothing they can do to stop a cannabis farm from setting up. 0:57

'No rules'

Robin Garreau, who lives with her husband and two children near the proposed Burnstown Farms operation, was part of the lead delegation against the proposal.

Garreau said she was most concerned about the smell. 

"It's essentially opening up a facility with no rules in terms of odour mitigation," she said.

Garreau said residents will be asking their federal and provincial representatives to create clear rules for outdoor cannabis facilities.

'We don't have too much say'

Reeve Richard Kidd said while there is a municipal bylaw to restrict the operation to 12 out of 50 acres, there was nothing the municipality could do to stop it altogether.

Beckwith Reeve Richard Kidd says there is nothing in current zoning to prevent cannabis from being grown on rural zoned properties. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"The problem is the federal government's made it legal, the province has said they can grow it and our zoning is proper … So we don't have too much say in the matter," Kidd said. 

"We certainly have a say in whether they can sell it and we can have a say in where they can grow it on the property. That's what we're exercising."

Beckwith has opted out of provincial private cannabis sales.

Kidd said any commercial use of the site — for retail or a spa — would require a commercial rezoning application, which could be denied.