Press Release: SDAB Hearing Information Feb 5, 2019

Press Release – February 5, 2019

Many Camrose County residents have taken a keen interest in two development projects that were approved by Camrose County in December 2018, just southeast of Camrose, near the Cargill Canola Crush Plant. Both applications were appealed and on January 16, 2019 a Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) held two hearings.  The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board consists of five members of the public at large appointed by Council from community volunteers.  SDAB members are trained through a Provincial training program and hear appeals of development decisions.

The first permit was issued by Camrose County to Krahn Engineering/Luft Botanicals for a one-story pre-engineered cannabis production facility.  The site is Plan 1424213, Block 1, Lot 4 and is located north east of the Cargill Crush Plant.  The land is zoned General Agriculture and intensive agriculture uses (greenhouses) are permitted by the Camrose County Land Use Bylaw.  The permit was appealed by the City of Camrose under the argument that the cannabis production facilities do not meet the definition of Intensive Agricultural Operations. 

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) upheld the permit because they found the majority of the facility is dedicated to the production of crops and the proposed use falls within the definition of Intensive Agricultural Operations as outlined in the Land Use Bylaw.   The Board found that cannabis is a crop based upon the evidence that both the 2018 Federal AgriStability Program and the 2018 AgriInvest Program list cannabis as an agricultural commodity.

Some concerns were raised by the public through the appeal process regarding the cannabis production facility.  Cannabis production facilities are separate from retail facilities and are subject to strict Health Canada regulations.  The building must be equipped with a system that filters air to prevent the escape of odours.  Health Canada monitors very strict security protocols and every gram of cannabis must be accounted for at every stage of the process.  The site must be designed in a manner that prevents unauthorized access.  Cannabis production facilities are taxed as agricultural use.  If you are interested in finding out more please see the following Health Canada website:  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/laws-regulations/compliance-enforcement-policy-cannabis-act/policy.html

The second permit was issued by Camrose County to Cargill for a fertilizer storage, blending and sales facility, just north of the existing Crush Plant on land owned by Cargill.  The land is zoned General Agricultural and fertilizer storage, blending and sales is listed in the County Land Use Bylaw as a discretionary use.  The permit was approved by the Municipal Planning Commission and was given conditions to mitigate any incompatibility. It was also circulated to adjacent land owners for consideration.  The County Municipal Planning Commission approved the development because they felt it is in an ideal location as it is located next to an internal roadway, it is directly adjacent to existing railway operations and is directly north of the Cargill Canola Crush Plant.    The permit was appealed by the City of Camrose as well as a neighboring land owner.

The SDAB denied the appeals and issued a development permit for the facility and included conditions in addition to those imposed by the County.  The additional conditions address concerns raised by the appellants and include fencing the area and building a berm on the east side of the property to minimize noise impact to the residences to the east of the facility.  As a condition of the development permit developer will contribute to the City of Camrose for off-site utility servicing.

Camrose County is pleased to see investment in our County by these developers.  The additional investment of $34 million dollars will bring approximately 80 new jobs and additional tax revenue to the community.  These developments are occurring in an area that has been identified for value-added agriculture development and in a time of a struggling economy, the increased activity will be positive for local construction companies, part and supply businesses, and have many other positive effects for the region and the City of Camrose.  In addition, the fertilizer plant will be strategically located to backfill trucks coming from farms loaded with canola and as such should decrease truck traffic and save local farmers money. 

These are developments that are consistent with the agricultural backbone of the County and will benefit farmers in the area.  However, these benefits are not limited to the agricultural industry, and the economic spin off will be positive for the entire area.  Camrose County welcomes value-added agricultural development and is open for business!

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 08:30