Eckel opposed to neighbouring cannabis facility

South Dundas council heard many objections to zoning bylaw amendment applications for two cannabis production facilities in the municipality at a public meeting held November 22. Pictured above (l-r) Councillor Donald Lewis, Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner, Mayor Steven Byvelds, and Councillor Archie Mellan. Absent from the meeting was Councillor Lloyd Wells. (South Dundas/via Youtube.com)

MORRISBURG – Cannabis production facilities are not welcome in South Dundas. That was the overwhelming sentiment expressed at two separate zoning bylaw amendment meetings that took place at Monday’s South Dundas council meeting.

More than a dozen area residents and nearby business owners attended the public meeting to voice their opposition to each of the two separate proposals presented.

The Allison Avenue facility zoning change for the property formerly occupied by Homestead Organics includes a proposed decrease in the setback to sensitive land uses. Neither that decrease to the setback nor the zoning change to allow a cannabis processing facility at that site was supported by anyone who chose to speak at the public meeting.

While the planner spoke about an estimated 20 jobs being created at the facility, that didn’t sway the opinions of those speaking out against the zoning change.

Homeowners such as Doug McNairn expressed concern about the potential adverse effects on area residents and businesses. “Do we really need the potential negative effects this close,” he said adding that there’s really no advantage to the golf course or area residents.

Nearby resident and business owner Dean Cassell said that he is worried about the odour and that he is against it.

However, the most convincing opposition came from Eckel Industries chief operating officer Brian Harris. He spelled out the potential negative impact of cannabis processing and its odors on their renowned noise control systems and products.

“If it absorbs sound, it absorbs odors,” he said. What that means is their products used in medical, scientific and security industries could be contaminated by odors from the adjacent property, putting them at risk. “Contaminated products will not be accepted by end users,” he said, also stating that if Eckel isn’t considered as a sensitive land use, and this cannabis facility affects Eckel’s products, Eckel would have to reassess its ongoing operations in Morrisburg.

Eckel has been in Morrisburg since 1959.

Harris said they have continually expanded employment to 90 people, with 20 additional positions to be filled.

The second zoning bylaw meeting Monday was for a cannabis processing facility at the former Auto Wonderland site near Riverside Heights.

A number of Riverside Height residents expressed their opposition to this proposed cannabis processing facility, especially the impact of odours on the enjoyment of their properties. They also worried about the effect the facility’s water usage would have on their well water.

Tourism, especially the enjoyment of outdoor tourism activities in this area such as various St. Lawrence Parks Commission attractions and Prehistoric World, was also a great concern for those who expressed opposition to the proposed facility.

Owners of Poppy’s Pit Stop, the food truck adjacent to the proposed location, said they never would have bought the property if they knew there was going to be a cannabis facility beside them. They just purchased their business this year and enjoyed a successful first year. “Our business would be a failure if people couldn’t eat outside,” said Paul Flaro. “We want to be successful in our business that we started,” said Stacy Fitzgerald. “This is where we live and where our children live.”

The project proponents attended Monday’s meeting and said that they were there to understand everyone’s concerns so that they could formally address those concerns at a future meeting. “We have no intention of devaluing the quality of life there,” the property owners said.

The public meeting was an opportunity for people to hear presentations, gather information and express concerns. Council will not make a decision on either of these zoning bylaw amendments until it receives a formal recommendation from its planners at an upcoming meeting.

South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds wrapped up Monday’s public meeting by saying: “Council takes your concerns seriously. We appreciate your effort coming here tonight.”

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