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Selwyn supports leading edge aquaponics facility
May 12, 2017
BY TERRY GILLIS
Tuesday night’s Selwyn Council meeting was short yet productive as two new applications for rezoning to accommodate new businesses in the township were approved. One application was for a dog training facility within the Village, the other was for a soil-less farming facility in Young’s Point.
As was reported in the March 17 edition of the Lakefield Herald, Pete Cremers purchased the old Young’s Point school building with the initial intention to subdivide the property into residential lots. However, because of zoning restrictions Cremer was forced to find another use for the property. After years of research and study into alternative farming methods, Pete decided that aquaponics was the right fit and created Pure Home Grown, Inc.
The property was designated Hamlet; and is zoned Community Facility. In order to open the business, the property needed to be rezoned as Highway Commercial Exception. In applying for Zoning By-law Amendment, it was necessary for Cremer to educate the Planning Staff and Council. Aquaponics is a new growing method in North America and can be mistaken for other types of growing systems.
In his application, Mr. Cremer defined aquaponics as “a contained facility for the growth of plants, fruit and/or vegetables, not including marijuana plant products, which incorporates an enclosed water loop system as the basis of plant/product growth.” The application also stated that the proposal does not include the physical expansion of the existing structures and that the former school will be utilized for the purposes of the aquaponics establishment, and the existing portable will be converted to office space.
n February, when Cremer initially submitted his application, the County Planning staff voiced their concerns stating that “when considering the collective nature of marijuana production facility (growth of the plants, harvesting, packaging and distribution) it extends beyond the intent of the commercial and industrial uses permitted in a Hamlet. The application was revised to specifically omit the use of the old school as a marijuana production facility and the County had no further concerns or comments.
Planner Jeannette Thompson recommended that the application be approved with a holding provision that requires Mr. Cremer to enter into a site plan agreement with the township.
Councillor Locke said that the proposal “sounds like an exciting project.” She also said that she was happy about the prohibition against marijuana stating that she had received comments and concerns about it.
Deputy Mayor Senis said that she was “excited that we’re on the leading edge here.” She commented that aquaponics fits a niche here and that fresh fish will be available to the community.
Following the meeting, Mr. Cremer said that he was excited by the support of council and the community. Now that the project can move forward he sees the business being operational within six months.