Chocolatier Trish Dyer is branching out into cannabis edibles, and passed a hurdle with council approval. File photo

Rossland chocolatier plans move to cannabis edibles

Council approves zoning change to accomodate processing facility

A Rossland chocolatier is hoping to join the “green gold rush.”

Trish Dyer, the owner of Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company, has applied to city council for permission to operate a cannabis edibles processing plant in an industrial part of town.

Dyer requested a zoning change as part of her application process to Health Canada for permission to manufacture edibles.

“As part of the extensive application process, and prior to submitting the application, a letter of notification to the following local authorities is required: the local government, the local fire authority, and the local police force,” Dyer wrote to council.

Edibles, which are cannabis-infused chocolates, candies, baked goods, and drinks, are expected to be a $3 billion market in Canada when they are legalized on Oct. 17. Health Canada expects to issue the first licences for edible products for sale by year’s end.

If she receives Health Canada approval, Dyer wants to open her facility in a building on the old Rossland-Cascade highway, just south of town. She’s named her company Linden Edibles, and was set to send her application in to the feds at the end of August.

She’s applied to Health Canada for the standard-sized manufacturing licence, which according to the federal department allows for “large-scale” processing, more than 600 kilograms of cannabis annually. Because the manufacture of edibles, tinctures and extracts is considered an industrial activity, it should be in an industrial zone, the department says.

New use for M1 zoning

The area Dyer wants to open shop is in a light industrial (M1) zone.

But that could have been a problem, said a report by city staff to council. When Rossland amended its bylaws to regulate the sale and consumption of cannabis within city limits in 2018, it also prohibited any other type of cannabis facility — cultivation, processing or nurseries — within city boundaries. That was to allow time to “better control” the introduction of this land use, the report reminded council.

So when Dyer went to the city for permission, she got bad news.

“City staff informed the applicant that the city’s zoning bylaw does not currently permit this type of use, so the applicant is interested in amending the zoning bylaw in order to permit this,” says city planner Stacey Lightbourne.

But there’s also good news for Dyer.

Lightbourne points out the city is trying to find ways to diversify its economy, and a cannabis edibles plant would fit that bill under the Official Community Plan.

Lightbourne offered options to council, including changing the existing zoning bylaw to allow edibles production in M-1 zones; to just change the existing zoning of Dyer’s particular location in the M-1 zone (which could complicate the zoning process); to draft a completely different bylaw with alternate regulations, or have staff survey the public for feedback before making any change.

The public would be given the chance to provide feedback for any of the options that include zoning changes.

“No major concerns regarding cannabis use/sales were raised in the survey on retail sales of cannabis in the municipality,” Lightbourne notes.

UPDATE: Council reviewed Dyer’s application at Monday’s council meeting. It unanimously voted to direct staff to draw up an amendment to the Light Industrial zoning rules for Rossland to allow for edibles manufacturing.

The change will require a full bylaw amendment process with a public hearing over the coming months.

“The legal cannabis industry is so new and evolving that Council had not previously considered other opportunities for economic development and diversification that this officially permitted industry might offer our community,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “Having the opportunity for a local processing and packaging facility will expand what will be a permitted use in the zone.”

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