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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Excerpts from Medical Marihuana Zoning Report ACS2013PAI-PGM 0227



For consideration Feb 6 at Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee  
           and at Feb 12 at Planning Committee
Executive Summary
“In evaluating this new land use, it was determined a medical marihuana production facility is most similar to a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, an industrial use for zoning purposes, than any other land use. A strategy was selected to group this industrial-type use with other industrial uses in rural areas away from concentrations of sensitive uses, in particular residential and institutional zones.

“A two-phase strategy is proposed for the introduction of permissions for medical marihuana production facilities in the Zoning By-law. The use will be permitted in rural industrial zones, with similar industrial-type uses, for a period of time until the impacts associated with these facilities can be evaluated. These zones were selected because they are the furthest away from concentrations of residential uses and from institutional uses such as schools. Adding a medical marihuana production facility to the rural industrial zones will support economic development in these zones. Once the impacts are better understood, further amendments to the Zoning By-law may be contemplated to add this use to certain urban industrial zones.”
Background  
Consideration began from a Health Canada decision. 
 “As a result, medical marihuana will no longer be proposed in private homes and will be both grown and distributed by secure commercial operators. This provides municipalities with an opportunity to regulate appropriate locations through zoning mechanisms.”
“As regulations have come into effect to legalize the commercial production of marihuana for medical purposes, amendments are needed to the Zoning By-law to determine where this new land use may be permitted in the city and to develop new zoning regulations to address potential impacts associated with the operation of these facilities.”

“Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations
On June 19, 2013, Health Canada published the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations in the Canada Gazette. These new regulations are intended to address the shortcomings of the former Medical Marihuana Access Program. The regulations permit the development of facilities for commercial-scale production of medical marihuana in a strictly controlled and monitored environment. The licensing process for these facilities includes the following requirements: all production, storage, and destruction of medical marihuana must be located indoors within a licensed facility or building;

• all facilities and sites must be equipped with outdoor surveillance equipment;

• clients are not permitted to access the facility;

• all distribution or receipt of medical marihuana must be through a courier or other distribution service;

• production facilities are not permitted to be located within a dwelling unit; and

• notification of a production facility license application and granting of said license must be provided to the local municipal authority.

In order to allow for transition to this new system of licensed producers, Health Canada will continue to operate the Marihuana Medical Access Program concurrently with the new regulations until March 31, 2014. As of April 1, 2014, the Medical Marihuana Access Program will formally end and individuals will only be able to obtain marihuana for medical purposes from producers licensed under the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.”

Urban Industrial Zones in the General Urban Area designation.
The policies for the General Urban Area permit a wide range of uses, including residential, institutional, commercial and industrial, to provide for the day-to-day needs of residents. Industrial zones are present in the General Urban Area designation; however they are surrounded by residential and other sensitive uses. Given there are land use designations specifically for industrial-type uses, it was determined that impacts associated with a medical marihuana production facility could be better managed in a less sensitive designation.
Rural Industrial Zones – RG – Rural General Industrial and RH – Rural Heavy Industrial in the Carp Corridor Employment Area designation.
The policies for the Carp Corridor Employment Area allow a full range of industrial-type uses, including manufacturing, mineral extraction, construction and transportation-related businesses. The primary purpose of the Carp Corridor is to be a location for employment and industrial uses, including heavy industrial uses. This designation includes large parcels of land that would be suitable for uses needing a large floor area. Policies in the Carp Corridor Community Design Plan provide for industrial-type uses in the Rural General Industrial and Rural Heavy Industrial Zones. Proximity to a 400-series highway would facilitate the shipping and distribution component of a medical marihuana production facility. There are relatively few sensitive land uses in the immediate vicinity of the designation.
City of Ottawa Employment Lands Study, 2012 Update – Draft Final Report
According to the most recent survey of vacant industrial and business park lands in 2011 there were 1,106 hectares (gross) of vacant land in the citys 14 rural industrial areas. The total supply of vacant employment land in the city was estimated to be 2,290 hectares (net) in 2011, approximately 40% of which was located in the rural area. Based on the supply of vacant land and the projected demand for industrial land, there is just over a 100 year supply of industrial land in the rural area of the city. The findings of the Employment Lands Study, 2012 Update confirm there is a sufficient supply of land available for industrial-type uses in the rural area. Adding a medical marihuana production facility to the Rural Heavy and Rural General Industrial zones will support economic development in these zones.
Additional Zoning Provisions Considered
Additional zoning provisions are proposed to address potential impacts associated with this new land use. A separation distance provision is proposed that would prohibit a medical marihuana production facility from locating within 150 metres of a residential or institutional zone. This provision is intended to address possible impacts associated with an industrial-type use being located in proximity to a zone having sensitive, low intensity uses. Additional provisions will prohibit the use in a dwelling and will require that the use be entirely indoors. Outdoor storage will be prohibited. A parking requirement is proposed that is similar to industrial uses in the rural area. It is proposed to require the same number of loading spaces for a medical marihuana production facility that applies to light and heavy industrial uses. Provisions for screening or fencing are not required as the federal regulations require fencing as part of the licensing process.
Final Zoning Recommendations
In evaluating this use, it was determined that a medical marihuana production facility is most similar to a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant (considered an industrial use for zoning purposes) than any other land use. A strategy was selected to group this industrial-type use with other industrial uses in rural areas away from concentrations of sensitive uses, in particular residential and institutional zones.
A two-phase strategy is proposed for the introduction of permissions for medical marihuana production facilities. The use will be permitted in rural industrial zones, with similar industrial-type uses, for a period of time until the impacts associated with these facilities can be evaluated, please see Document 1 - Maps showing affected zones and Wards. Once the impacts are better understood, further amendments to the Zoning By-law may be contemplated to add this use to the urban industrial zones. Staff recommend a review of this land use be undertaken within three years of the amendments in this report coming into effect.
Staff have evaluated the area of land in the rural area that will be affected by these amendments and have the opinion that a sufficient area of land will be made available for the establishment of these facilities in the city, at this time. Making this a permitted use in the rural industrial zones will also support economic development in the generous supply of vacant rural industrial land. These locations are the farthest removed from concentrations of sensitive residential and institutional zones and are considered the most desirable locations for medical marihuana production facilities at this time.
Requirements for Site Plan Control
Construction of a building for a medical marihuana production facility would be subject to Site Plan Control approval. Staff are recommending that these applications not be subject to public consultation given that federal regulations strictly control the operation of these facilities and that the use takes place completely within a building.