Cannabis facility proposed in Mapleton

Council is considering a proposal to create a cannabis production and warehouse facility in the Drayton Industrial Park.

On June 12, council authorized CAO Manny Baron to negotiate with the Autobahn Group for the purchase of the land and for details of location within the industrial park and to work with Wellington County on required zoning amendments.

The principals of the  transportation company,  which has over 600 trucks and 50 tankers on the road in Canada and the United States, are proposing to purchase seven of the 23 acres available in phase two of the industrial park.

The company’s initial plan is to construct a 46,000-square-foot production and warehousing facility surrounded by eight foot high fencing.

The project is expected to provide jobs for 10 to 15 people in the fields of laboratory technology, quality assurance, packaging and security during the initial growth stages.

A letter of intent from the principals of the Autobahn Group, signed by H. Randhawa, states the group will commence the licensing process as soon as the town approves the land purchase proposal, “as Health Canada license approvals are site specific and therefore this process cannot be commenced any earlier.”

The letter states, “We will hire the best consultants to assist us with the approval process with Health Canada. Construction can commence once a project ID is obtained

from Health Canada, which is generally three months after the initial application with Health Canada.”

“There is a lot of work and consultation to be done prior to final acceptance,” Baron points out. “I believe a public meeting needs to be held and the proponents present to answer any questions.

“We also need to be cautious not to over regulate cannabis production at the risk of violating the Charter of Rights.”

Baron indicated another point to consider is the location of the plant within the industrial park.“We want to ensure we don’t take away from the other facilities that are scheduled to be built,” he cautioned.

While indicating a more detailed financial implication report will be submitted “once we gather more facts relating to the construction of the facility,” Baron stated,

“We can expect the purchase price, development charges and property taxes as revenue, but we also need to consider the cost to service the facility.”

Noting the industrial park is close to the PMD arena, councillor Lori Woodham asked, “our motion as it reads … will that entail ensuring that we’re meeting odour control rules?’

“In my opinion, that is one of many conditions that we would put in,” said Baron. “There are some very legitimate concerns that I would like to impose on the operator … to ensure that we are very well protected.”

Baron noted an agreement of purchase and sale would have to come back to council to complete a land transaction and conditions would be spelled out through the regulatory process.

“I guess my biggest concern around this would be odour as well,” said councillor Michael Martin.

“I mean, you only have to say Rothsay and everybody knows what an odour problems is, and that’s what Mapleton was known for, right – because of years and years of wretched stench as you drove through that little town and I would hate for Drayton to turn into that.”

Martin asked if the company currently has other facilities of a similar nature or if the principals of the trucking business are diversifying into a new area.

“That’s the impression I’m getting is that they want to invest in something that’s up and coming,” said Baron.

“This is just us as council saying, hey we are open for business. Yes, we’re  looking at this and this is giving staff the authorization to take a look at it … We’re not saying that yes, we’re going to have a pot store next week – well grow-op,” said Woodham.