The Regional District of North Okanagan board members met Wednesday. (Richard Rolke/Morning Star)

Cannabis growers to pay premium water rates

RDNO debates water rates on cannabis and recycling adjustments.

Looming legalization of pot has local governments scrambling to set standards.

The federal government made history Wednesday by confirming the non-medical cannabis legalization date. It is now set for Oct. 17, 2018. Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, creates a new national framework that provides access to a regulated supply of cannabis, while implementing restrictions to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use.

“This federal legislation creates a corresponding need for provincial and territorial governments to establish cannabis-related laws and regulations,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “That’s why B.C. recently passed legislation to ensure we have a responsible regulatory framework in place for the safe implementation of legalized cannabis throughout our province.”

At the RDNO meeting on Wednesday, the big topic of concern had to do with water rates for commercial cannabis growers. The motion brought to the RDNO recommended that the criteria for water rates be updated so commercial cannabis growing operations are not eligible for Greater Vernon Water Agricultural Water Rates.

“The province has said that cannabis can grow on ALC [Assessment Farm Classification] property an allowed use on agricultural land and so there are some large facilities planned on agricultural land,” said Director B. Fleming. “However they did give it farm tax status so they aren’t exempting it. What Greater Vernon Water plans to do is encourage the places that are in the industrial areas and are paying those rates for the water.”

Greater Vernon Water provides a rate for agricultural uses that is less than domestic rates. GVW determines if a property is eligible for the agricultural rate by using a number of criteria. One of those is if the property has BC Assessment Farm Classification. This excludes medical cannabis production as a farm use for property tax purposes.The motion carried.

Recycling may be dumped from landfill

Another big topic of the night was recycling. The proposal brought to the RDNO was regarding for the Greater Vernon Recycling and Disposal Facility, Armstrong/Spallumcheen Recycling and Disposal Facility, Lumby Recycling and Disposal Facility, Cherryville Transfer Station, Kingfisher Transfer Station and Silver Star Transfer Station.

According to Recycling & Disposal Facilities Operations Manager Dale Danallanko, the plan is to operate similarly to Kelowna through privately administered depots. Danallanko said this will work better to prevent contamination between recyclables and garbage.

“Our biggest problem is that we can’t monitor what is going in every bin at all times and when you turn your back, it’s amazing what will go in there, ” said Danallanko. “Our recommendation is to drive it to Recycle BC depots and we don’t have those at our landfills.”

The motion was deferred pending further consultation.

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