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Lacombe County Land Use Bylaw amended to accommodate cannabis legalization

Bylaw allows for production facilities and retail of cannabis

Lacombe County’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) was amended to accommodate cannabis legalization at the October 25, 2018 Lacombe County Council meeting.

Before these changes were drafted, staff held two public meetings, in conjunction with Alberta Health Services, as part of the County’s Cannabis in Your Community public engagement strategy.

The feedback from these meetings and a public survey were used to gather comments and concerns regarding cannabis legalization and its impacts on Lacombe County.

“Our goal from the start was to ensure the changes to the bylaw took into account the many perspectives held by our ratepayers,” said Reeve Paula Law. “Council felt that this updated Land Use Bylaw encompasses the concerns and opportunities felt by Lacombe County ratepayers, while providing a strong foundation that can be built on for this emerging industry.”

The two areas that the LUB looked at as a result of cannabis legalization were cannabis production facilities and cannabis retail.

  • Cannabis Production Facilities: Identified as a discretionary use in the Agricultural ‘A’ District, the Business Industrial ‘I-BI’ District, and the Hamlet Industrial ‘I-H’ District.
  • Cannabis Retail: Identified as a discretionary use in the Hamlet Commercial ‘C-H’ District, Highway Commercial ‘C-HC’ District, General Commercial ‘C-GC’ District, and Recreational ‘P-R’ District.

Public feedback indicated that cannabis retail stores should be treated the same as liquor stores.

“The public was clear that they be informed of any development permit applications for proposed cannabis facilities, which we have built into the amended Land Use Bylaw,” said Manager of Planning Services, Dale Freitag. “We made sure to include feedback on what the community deemed as appropriate locations for retail stores, which helped determine the districts appropriate for cannabis retail.”

Clarification on Setbacks

After hearing from residents during the October 11, 2018 Council meeting, Council voted to delay second and third reading on the Land Use Bylaw (LUB), which would set out the guidelines for production facilities and retail locations.

Concerns were brought forward at the public hearing regarding the proposed setbacks in the Agricultural Districts for cannabis production facilities, which was originally proposed to be 100 metres from all property boundaries.

“The purpose of setbacks is to prevent nuisance conflicts, protect existing residential and agricultural operations, and safeguard human health,” said Freitag. “However, large setbacks can also cause siting issues, and the County recognized that it needed to strike a balance that reduces potential conflict between uses, while still being reasonable and economical.”

To address these concerns, Council approved the amendment to make setback requirements for cannabis production facilities in the Agricultural District at 25 feet from a property boundary in alignment with the current setbacks for buildings.

This distance though is at the discretion of the Development Authority, who may impose a greater setback from the property boundary as a condition of development approval for a cannabis production facility if they feel it is necessary to protect against any adverse impacts or nuisance to neighbouring properties.

“The input we received from the public during the meetings, through the survey, and at the public hearing was crucial in the development of these changes,” said Reeve Law. “At the end of the day, Council’s responsibility is balancing the concerns of the public with the reality of running a business, and feel that we accomplished that with these amendments to the Land Use Bylaw.”

For more details on Cannabis Legalization in Lacombe County, please visit Lacombe County’s website.

Submitted by Lacombe County

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