Blake Ellis & Heather Wright
Local Journalism Initiative & The Independent
The Australian cannabis producer Cannim now has a licence to cultivate pot plants and seeds in Ontario. And it appears local municipal leaders and emergency responders knew the company had plans to apply for a licence for the Enniskillen facility as early as August.
As The Independent reported Nov. 16, Cannim has taken up residence at 4376 Lasalle Line with mail being delivered to Cannim Canada at the site. The Lasalle Line greenhouse right now is not eligible to grow cannabis under local planning rules. Renovations have been underway since October.
The owner of the greenhouse, Christine Greydanus, sent an email to The Independent hours after the story first appeared in print saying Enniskillen Pepper changed its name to Enniskillen Produce Nov. 10 and plans to grow mini-cucumbers in the greenhouse with the first crop produced in 2024.
But emails asking how Cannim Canada fits into Enniskillen Produce’s plans remained unanswered at press time.
The option to grow cannabis at the Lasalle Line is in dispute.
Enniskillen passed new zoning regulations in January designed to stop cannabis production within 300 meters of homes. That came after a long battle between neighbours Kathy and Trevor Brand and the last cannabis producer on the site – Tilray – which operated High Park Farm until 2021.
The mother and son fought for the company to control the smell coming from the greenhouses for years, going as far as taking the issue to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board before Tilray merged with Aphria Inc. and moved its Lambton County operation to Leamington.
After the new Enniskillen zoning rules passed early in 2023, Lambton County planning staff came back to Enniskillen council with a proposed exemption for the greenhouse. The Greydanus’ said their options for the property, which was up for sale at the time, would be limited without the opportunity to continue growing cannabis.
But the exemption didn’t come to pass after a tied vote at council, the greenhouse is still subject to the new zoning rules. At least for now.
The Greydanus’ have launched an appeal of the new rules to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
In the meantime, The Independent has learned Cannim Canada Ltd. was granted a license to cultivate cannabis plants and seeds to sell to authorized distributors and retailers and to registered patients using cannabis in Ontario Oct. 27.
The Cannabis Act links the licence to a specific location since licence holders have to meet many standards for building security among other things. But when The Independent contacted Health Canada to confirm Cannim’s licence is for the Enniskillen location, officials stated location is “considered confidential business information.”
According to the act, the licence holder also has to alert local police, fire and municipal officials of the intention to seek a cannabis licence before it is approved. Sources tell The Independent that a letter of intent to file for a licence for cannabis cultivation on Lasalle Line was delivered in August to the authorities. At press time, Enniskillen officials had not responded to emailed questions on whether that notice was received and if it was, why it was kept in confidence.
Both Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott and Councillor Mary Lynne McCallum told The Independent last week they had no knowledge of who Cannim was and what their intentions at the Enniskillen greenhouse.
McCallum was blunt in her criticism, saying “It doesn’t belong there. It’s never belonged there with residential so close.
“It’s been an issue since the day it opened and I do not want to see it back there.”
McCallum wondered at the time how any construction was taking place at the site, since the zoning is being contested. “Everything is stalled, like building permits and everything is stalled until it goes to the OLT. So, I don’t know how they’re getting… around that to be honest.”
Trevor Brand had the same questions.
Just before the conclusion of Monday’s council meeting, Brand stuck his hand up and began firing questions at the municipal politicians.
Brand questioned whether mini-cucumbers would be grown at the greenhouse owned by Jack and Christine Greydanus, something that he read in the Nov. 16 edition of The Independent. Marriott clarified this was a rumour he had heard.
When asked whether Enniskillen Pepper Company (now Enniskillen Produce) had a building permit, Marriott said a building permit couldn’t be issued, because Enniskillen Pepper Company was currently appealing the zoning. “I wish they would ask for a building permit,” said McCallum. Brand said there have been “dumpsters” of materials taken out of the greenhouse including plumbing materials left at the road for people to take.
“There has been no discussion with the greenhouse operator,” said Enniskillen Administrator-Clerk Duncan McTavish. The municipality can have that discussion though, he said.
When asked whether the owners would need a demolition permit to do this type of work, McTavish said that would be a question to pose to the County of Lambton’s building department, something he said he would look into.
Brand went on to ask why Enniskillen Pepper is doing this work and what exactly are they doing? “We don’t know that for sure,” said Marriott.
“How much more proof do you want?” an exasperated Brand asked adding Enniskillen Pepper is “up to something” before the discussion ended.
When Brand asked when he can follow up to get an answers to his questions, Marriott didn’t know the answer to this question.
“Watch the paper, that is how we know about it,” Marriott said.
The Independent contacted Lambton’s Chief Building Official, Corrine Nauta, and McTavish about the building permits. McTavish confirmed none were issued.
In an email, Nauta says, “We are in discussion with the property owner regarding the scope of work/project to determine if permits are required under the Ontario Building Code.”
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says on its website that “a building permit is often required before a farming operation can construct, expand or renovate a farm building. It is important to contact the municipality early to determine the requirements to obtain the building permit for the work being proposed. Not securing a building permit and other approvals can result in delays in construction and unexpected costs.”
While farm buildings can fall under the National Farm Building Code of Canada, cannabis operations have specific regulations under the building code and the Cannabis Act including for ventilation.
Repeated calls and emails to Cannim Canada Ltd since early November about its plans for the property have yet to be returned.
Cannim is not a stranger to southwestern Ontario. In Dec. 2021, it announced a merger with Chatham-Kent based Medisun in a $12 million deal. The company produced 1,000 kg of medicinal quality cannabis a week from its five acre greenhouse in Grande Point.
A news release at the time said “significant orders” had been secured from the company and were expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2022.
But the relationship soured and Medisun closed the greenhouse. Sources say Cannim “was not good at paying” for their products.