Personal cannabis facility coming

Written by Terri Huxley

In order to allow a personal cannabis facility to exist within Starland County, the land use bylaw needed a quick update as personal use was not included.

Council underwent a public hearing at the latest council meeting held Wed. July 21 where no letters nor anyone from the public attended to share their thoughts.

Starland needed to change the bylaw to allow for the addition of a ‘Medical Marihuana Production Facility’ to the rural Small Holdings District as discretionary use.

Second and third reading of the bylaw was passed once the hearing closed.

Prior to this change, these types of facilities were only allowed as a discretionary use within the Agricultural Intensive District and Rural Industrial Districts pointed towards large-scale commercial operations.

Glen Riep contacted Health Canada to ask about some specifics as to how this personal facility would work.

The applicant requested the need for 720 plants to be used for personal use annually. The building these plants are housed in uses three-phase power as well.

Coun. John Rew asked how someone would use three plants per day at that amount.

This was also asked by Riep to Health Canada representatives who he said didn’t have an answer for him with ‘no clarity anyway’.

Riep also asked the department about who would be monitoring this facility but again – no solid answer was given.

“They can’t give any real guidance so it’s a joke,” said Rew.

Coun. Watts said the plant has multiple uses and may be used for oil and other products – again for personal usage.

“You can’t tax something that isn’t meant to be sold,” she said.

Rew asked if this facility can be taxed but administration felt it was not as it was intended for personal use.

Bitcoin company complying

Hut 8 Holdings has agreed to comply with the county’s request to pay up on their taxes after communications exchanged in the last couple of weeks.

The company requested for the outstanding balance of $272,200.74 to be waived since they did not realize they needed to pay property tax and had recently taken over the mining service from Bitfury Technology Inc.

Since then with the decision to still pay from council, Hut 8 agreed to pay the full amount.

Declare an ag disaster?

Coun. Jackie Watts prompted council to discussion to determine if it was a good idea to proclaim an agricultural disaster for the county.

Watts shared that Cypress County has already done so and more are yet to follow as crop conditions worsen.

Reeve Steve Wannstrom spoke with the county’s agricultural fieldman about it and they felt that the county has not reached this point yet and that ‘we shouldn’t be jumping the gun.’

She also added that ‘It starts to shed light on the situation’ including that of poor feed crops, stating her family is already hurting when it comes to little feed left for livestock which many others in the province can relate to.

Council agreed to check out the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocacy group for a guide on what constitutes a need for this declaration to proceed and when.

It noted that even though a municipality may declare an agricultural disaster due to drought, flooding, etc. it does not trigger automatically increased funding from the province or feds.

Waterline tender chosen

Four bids for the CLV Waterline Replacement tender were received.

The lowest bid for the project came in at $169,827 although the county has a budget of approximately $297,000 in Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding.

This bid from Elite Site Services based in Black Diamond won the contract.

Administration expects there to also be up to $50,000 in engineering costs and contingency added.

The county hopes to not only get the line installed but get a good start on phase two by installing and connecting the line to a central building with the extra savings made as they must use up $245,000 in MSI or else it is returned and future funding could become slimmer.

Start time is slated for September and will take roughly two weeks to complete.

Volleyball club given $1,800

The 18-2 Beach Volleyball club based near Delia, Alta. asked the county to support their club through the Starland Amateur Team Grant.

With 36 players within three age divisions, they asked for $50 each, amounting to $1,800 in support.

Majority of players reside in Starland County and its villages.

Administration shared that this grant has between $10,000 and $12,000 allocated each year and is typically given on a first-come first-serve basis.

Local clubs in the past such as figure skating, curling, baseball and hockey on occasion have utilized this grant.

Council accepted 18-2’s request, fulfilling the full amount.

Tax incentive application

Council accepted a tax incentive application from BluEarth Renewables in regards to the Hand Hills Wind Project.

Of the two options presented to the company, they opted for the latter which was to have the project granted a 50 per cent tax deferral for years one to 10 and to be paid back in full during years 10 to 15.

Newspaper contract

Starland agreed to accept a three-year contract with the Drumheller Mail.

The county will also have the option to renew for an additional two years.

This contract in total comes to $67,074.92 over three years and includes all newspaper editions to ratepayers within Starland with a section dedicated to content such as public hearings, payment deadlines, job advertisements, events notices, and other types of information.

Council minutes will no longer be required nor financial statements as these items will be posted on the county’s website instead.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.