Project would create 10-20 full-time positions
A proposal to set up a medical cannabis production facility in Long Harbour-Mount Arlington Heights is contingent on an amendment to the community's municipal plan and development regulations.
According to minutes from a council meeting held in April of last year, Winnie Courage is looking to use a local building for growing, secondary processing, packaging and distribution of medical cannabis, with customers receiving the product through Canada Post.
The proponent was initially looking at two properties but has since settled on a former school building on Church Road that has since been converted into an 88,100-square-feet commercial property.
According to an old real estate listing for the property, it had a market price of $179,000.
Mayor Gary Keating told The Telegram he was surprised to see the proposal come before his council, but he's excited by its potential economic benefits for the community, recognizing cannabis is a growth industry in the province and Canada as a whole.
"There's a lot of questions being asked in terms of the industry — it's new," he said. "In my opinion, it's exciting. It's going to be coming to this province. There's communities I'm sure quite willing to take (these facilities). But we've still got to go through the process of getting all the information that's relevant to the industry, the environment aspects of it and the employment aspects. It could be another tax base for the town. We're exploring all those options."
When the proposal first came before council in April, Courage anticipated the project would create 10-20 full-time jobs.
Council agreed at that time to approve the application in principle, noting the property on Church Road would need to be rezoned from a town land-use designation to special industrial-2.
Keating told The Telegram local contractors most recently used the building for storage.
There was later some hesitancy on the local council's part to proceed with adopting the necessary amendment to the town's municipal plan and development regulations to rezone the land.
Minutes for the Sept. 19, 2019 meeting show council members were looking to get information from Courage on the management of odours, wastewater disposal and the site development plan.
Much of this would be covered in the provincial government’s environmental assessment process.
The project has not entered the environmental assessment phase as of yet, but Courage did subsequently submit an environmental assessment document prepared by Atlantic Cultivation Ltd. for a proposed cannabis production facility in St. John's, indicating the Long Harbour project would be similar to this one. Council agreed at its Oct. 17, 2019 meeting to submit the amendment to the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment for review and comment.
That department later released the proposed amendment from provincial review. The town has since then adopted the amendment, which will now be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the local community centre.
According to a published notice for the hearing, the town clerk needs to receive two copies of a written document offering opinions on the proposed amendment at least two days before the date of the public hearing. If nothing is received, the public hearing may be cancelled.
Keating said the town had not received anything from residents in writing as of mid-afternoon Friday.
The next municipal council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 16.
The project's proponent did not respond to requests for comment from The Telegram prior to deadline.