Tighter controls over cannabis, AirBnbs in official plans

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Plympton-Wyoming and Warwick may take a tough stand against new cannabis operations.

The two municipalities are working with the Village of Point Edward, Lambton County and Niagara Planning Services on their official plan reviews. The consultants recently presented their preliminary ideas to both Plympton-Wyoming and Warwick, with identical policies on some of the most difficult planning issues the municipalities face.

Mary Lou Tanner and John Hendricks touched on a number of items including the rules around cannabis operations.

Tanner says there should be clear rules. “The indoor cannabis growing in industrial areas would be permitted, subject to site plan approval. The second is that indoor cannabis grows in agricultural areas would be subject to rezoning and site plan approval,” she says.

“We put the rezoning in the agricultural areas because in our experience, that’s where the most significant concerns can arise. And the odor issues can be more prevalent. So we want to make sure in the agricultural areas that council is really comfortable that applicants have addressed all of the issues that are going to need to be addressed as part of these applications.”

Tanner says for now she believes outdoor or field growth should not be permitted.

Another issue both Warwick and Plympton-Wyoming face is concerns over farm severance. Tanner is suggesting instead of farmers getting approval to sever lots, the municipality deals with the zoning issues first. If they feel a home could be severed, the zoning would be changed first. Then it would be up to farmers to ask for the severance.

“If you’re not supportive of it moving forward, that’s where you will set your policy and the applicant will have to make a decision,” she says.

Tanner adds the only time a home should be severed from a farm property is when it is consolidating.

Plympton-Wyoming has also had some big concerns about accommodations. AirBnB’s have sprung up along Lake Huron and have caused some huge problems for neighbours.
Hendricks says there have to be some basic ground rules. “The key piece that everybody understands well as a bed and breakfast, vacation rental, where there’s an owner occupying the residence, you have visitors staying at the residence and generally getting breakfast in the morning.

“What we’re hearing a lot of now are the AirBnbs, where typically, the homes are not owner occupied, and there’s really isn’t a lot of regulation or hasn’t been a lot of regulation over that,” he says.

Hendricks is suggesting rentals have three bedrooms for rent, they shouldn’t be in outbuildings – detached from the home – and anything else should be rezoned.
Both Plympton-Wyoming and Warwick will now hold public meetings to discuss these ideas before the consulting group writes its final report for council. It’s hoped that the Official Plan review can be complete by this summer.