Medical and recreational marijuana production could soon be employing local people at the Palmerston Industrial Park.
At the July 18 meeting, town council approved an offer from Jack Krosinski of Krosinski Enterprises Ltd. to purchase land in the park.
Business and economic manger Belinda Wick-Graham told council she and chief building official Terry Kuipers met with Krosinski on May 26 to discuss his interest in purchasing land within the Palmerston Industrial Park for a medical cannabis production facility and “as the law permits” recreational cannabis.
Krosinski has been working with Health Canada since 2013, Wick-Graham explained.
His initial application was for a distribution license but due to legislative and marketplace changes, he amended the application to a distribution and cultivation license and is currently going through the agency’s review process.
Wick-Graham said Krosinski wants to purchase three acres of land with right of first refusal on an additional three acres “for future expansion.”
The purchaser is offering the full asking price of $15,000 per acre. The initial facility is proposed to include a 5,000 square foot processing facility and three 5,000 square foot cultivation greenhouses.
“Initially there would be eight staff,” said Wick-Graham. “But it could grow up to be 100. It’s hard to say how quickly things could develop like that, but there are plans to have a hundred people.”
Krosinski is also working with the University of Guelph on research into the medical benefits of cannabis and production methods, she added.
Rezoning of the property is needed to allow cannabis cultivation, which is considered an agricultural use.
“It would be like any other rezoning – a public process that would require a public meeting,” said Wick-Graham.
“We have done some research into other communities that have these types of facilities and all of them have stressed that these are pharmaceutical-grade facilities.
“They’re highly regulated. Security is very tight, so people shouldn’t worry.”
Councillor Mary Lou Colwell asked, “Where do we go from here, as far as, you’re saying how safe it is … letting the public know that?”
Wick-Graham replied, “As we go through the rezoning process I think that Mr. Krosinski would be here to explain the whole process …
“He’s been working on this since 2013 to get to stage five of seven, so its very highly regulated … So he would be here to explain all that and help people feel comfortable.”
Mayor George Bridge noted he expects information provided at the mandatory public meeting will help allay concerns from the public.
“There’s maybe people out there really who don’t understand at all. They think it’s just somebody running around out there toking up and whatever,” Bridge said.
Colwell said, “Before it gets to the degree of this public meeting there could be a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of talking. I’m wondering if it would be worthwhile to put out a press release.”
CAO Bill White pointed out at this point it would be up to Krosinski to provide information on his operation to the public.
Councillor Jean Anderson said she is confident the public will accept a facility of this nature.
“Cannabis has been used for a long, long time in the health care system and for many people that it’s been of benefit to, they’ve found no relief anywhere else … and I think that notion is pretty much out there, but I think an education program would bring it out,” she suggested.
Councillor Dave Turton said, “When we start talking about the amount of money that we’ve put into this industrial park and infrastructure, that’s the goal is to get business in there and industries there that can employ people…
“We might as well reap the benefit here.”
Council received Wick-Graham’s report and authorized the signing of the agreement of purchase and sale, contingent on final approval of the rezoning application.