Outdoor marijuana farm could be coming to Ottawa Valley
An Ottawa Valley company wants to build an outdoor marijuana farm near Carleton Place.
Burnstown Farms Cannabis Company wants to build what could be one of the first of it's kind in Canada. The 50 acre parcel of land in Beckwith Township is currently a Christmas tree farm, but work has already begun to clear the land.
"By doing it legally in a highly regulated environment, we're going to keep it out of the hands of children," said Mark Spear, the CEO of Burnstown Farm Cannabis Company. "And also ensure high-quality lab-tested products reach the medical market."
Spear says growing weed is nothing new, but legalization is.
"It's a crop, just like any others," said Spear. "It has different uses, and it has different growing characteristics."
The former employee of Smith Falls-based Canopy Growth says the current indoor cultivation of weed is not sustainable.
'We're going to use 99% less electricity than an indoor farm would and there would be substantially less carbon output," Spear said. "There won't be any chemical fertilizers on the plants and we we're also not going to spray any pesticides."
But residents still don't want the farm in their backyard.
Robin and Timon Garreau's have lived on the road of the proposed site for 20 years. Their home backs on to the property.
"There's lots of safety concerns," said Garreau. "Road safety, the kids, traffic, some of the water, where that's going to come from, the chemicals they're going to spray with."
Garreau says the thought of losing property value after all these years, is heartbreaking.
"The big thing is our property value," said Garreau. "What's that going to look like in another 2 years?"
"You're stuck in a rock and a hard place," Garreau said. "You can't move because no one will buy your house, and you can't stay because it's a quality of life problem."
The couple is just one of several residents expressing concern.
Beckwith Township Reeve Richard Kidd says he understand why residents are upset.
"I live less than a mile away from the location," said Kidd. "I think a lot of it is the unknown, this is a new thing in Canada and our township."
Kidd says the area has been zoned as rural and therefore, any legal substance or crop, can be harvested.
"If we said no, then we would be challenged on why we said no," said Kidd. "We don't have any grounds to say no to the production."
Spear still has to be approved for a license to grow plants outdoors from Health Canada. Burnstowns Farms Cannabis Company is in the process of the application and has used several consultants to help with what Spear calls complicated paperwork.
He says he has future plans to bring also bring a unique cannabis experience to the Ottawa area, including a cannabis spa that would have massage therapy ad cannabis-infused hydrotherapy.
The decision for the site approval will go before council in Beckwith Township Monday at 7 p.m.