Red Deer County to take 'hard look' at marijuana facility proposal

Some farmers in Red Deer County are hoping their message got through — they don’t want a 53,000-square-foot medical marijuana facility going up next door.

After meeting among themselves earlier this week, area residents expressed their opposition directly to Agrafina, the company behind the proposal, at an open house on Thursday night in Pine Lake.

Many wanted to know why Agrafina aims to build the facility east of Innisfail in an area they described as essentially in the middle of nowhere — where there are no services — instead of in an industrial location within the county.

Kelly Fraser worried about the emergency response time to the proposed location.

“If there’s an accident, I want to make sure that we’ll all be looked after properly,” she said. “And the workers. If there are 75 workers, we also need to make sure they’re safe, too.”

Kelly Fraser

Kelly Fraser says she has some concerns about the marijuana facility but appreciated the opportunity to speak with the company about the proposal. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Fraser said she appreciated the chance to speak directly with Agrafina about her concerns, and she recognizes that marijuana will likely be an increasingly lucrative, legal industry in the future.

“I honestly feel that they are ahead of the game, and we are maybe three steps behind,” she said.

The open house attendees also came looking for details about the impact such a facility would have on traffic, water supply and waste management.

But Lorne Cole said they didn’t get those answers from the Agrafina represenative at the open house.

“She wasn’t able to give me any estimate of the water usage that they would be looking at, the amount of product that they would be producing and the traffic it would generate … or any idea what the waste management program would be,” he said.

“If you’re making a proposal such as this, you need those numbers before you even put a paper across anybody’s desk.”

Lorne Cole

Lorne Cole says he came away from the open house with more questions than answers. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The company representative at the open house refused to provide her name to CBC News.

Agrafina’s application letter to Red Deer County identifies the company as a family-owned business run by a married couple, Rosina Smith and Raymond Smith, along with their sons Raymond Smith Jr. and John Paul Smith and numerous other relatives.

“Our intent is to enhance the community through collaboration, building relationships and fostering understanding,” Rosina Smith writes in the application letter.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood told CBC News previously that council has a tough decision on the proposal.

“Medical marijuana is something that is quite new, and so I think it’s important that we take a hard look at the impact to our communities, and we want to make sure we are very informed,” Wood said.

The application is due to be heard by Red Deer County’s planning commission on Tuesday.

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