Matchbox Organics has begun the approval process for the development of a “micro Cannabis cultivation and processing facility” (think of it in terms of what craft breweries are to the beer industry) at 31 Walker Street in Markdale. The location under consideration is beside the Walter Harris Library and was formally used as the laundry and storage facility for Four Seasons Party Rentals. Matchbox Organics brought the application to Grey Highlands Council on February 19, explaining that while the existing building footprint would remain unchanged, given the proposed use for the site, the property would be fenced along all sides for security reasons.
Since municipal bylaws were created long before the legalization of cannabis and neither the Municipality’s Official Plan nor bylaws speak directly to cannabis operations, ultimately, Council concluded that the business as proposed, fits within established land use requirements. Members of Council recommended that Matchbox would also need to operate in compliance with commercial and residential land use requirements including a limited emission of pollen, dust, and odours to the surrounding area, as well as providing adequate security at their facility. Having taken these concerns into account, Collingwood Today notes in an article that Matchbox “plans to produce legal medical and recreational high-grade, FDA/Health Canada approved cannabis through a state-of-the-art facility that will implement water recycling practices and high-efficiency lighting. No pesticides will be used in the growing process of the plants and the company also has plans to install an air purification system that will include UV air purification, as well as black carbon filters to control odours”.
According to SouthGrey.ca, as per “recent rules established as a result of federal Cannabis legalization, the Municipality discourages retail cannabis sales within 150 m of any Municipal Library, playground, park or sports field. Ontario regulation also restricts any cannabis retail store from being located within 150 m of a public school. But because this application is for cultivation and processing and not retail sales, these restrictions do not come into play, despite school, sports field and municipal library buildings all located within 150 m of this building.” It should also be noted that the town of Markdale could see several benefits if Matchbox Organics were to establish its operation in town, including expanding the municipalities business base, filling an otherwise empty building, attracting additional investment and job creation. As outlined in the application, Matchbox Organics has the potential to employ 25 full-time employees.
Cannabis cultivation and processing is both licensed and strictly controlled by the federal government. On the local level, Municipal approvals must be in place and the buildings in question must be deemed to be properly constructed for cannabis cultivation and processing before a Federal license is issued. Additionally, signage on the property will be very limited to only providing the building address and company name.
Again referring to an article in SouthGrey.ca, “Grey County Planning, Transportation Services and Housing Department each reviewed the subject application and expressed no comments or concerns. Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority also gave their approval”. The matter was referred to the Committee of the Whole to and a public meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00pm. All community members are welcome and encouraged to attend.