The Regional District of North Okanagan boardroom was filled to capacity Wednesday for a public hearing regarding the size and locations of cannabis production and processing facilities within the region.
The meeting sought to gain public input about a potential bylaw amendment that would establish regulations surrounding cannabis facilities within Electoral Areas B, C, D, E and F that are located within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
A number of concerned residents voiced their opinions calling for location changes.
Some residents said cannabis facilities should be in industrial areas and agricultural lands not be rezoned to allow for this type of infrastructure.
Michael Coti was upset for a number of reasons, including the limited notice of the public hearing itself.
Coti said industrial facilities should be built on industrial land, not agricultural land, and he noted the ministry of agriculture would agree.
“Let’s limit this and put it on industrial land. The industrial land is there, it’s all there and it’s waiting to be used up for people like cannabis growers,” Coti said.
“I don’t want the facility next to my property.”
“We want to be able to go out on our deck at night and look at the stars and not see this glowing thing right next door.”
The bylaw would also see amendments to facility sizes: building footprints of production and processing facilities restricted to a maximum of 500 square metres, except for facilities in Electoral Area D — those will be allowed to exceed that limit.
But facilities that go over the 500-square-metre maximum would have to be located on properties greater than 7.2 hectares and couldn’t cover more than five per cent of the lot.
“Cannabis is not a proven remedy for anything — it’s pretty new,” a resident named Gary said.
“And to dedicate something of that size to something that’s not proven is irresponsible.”
A Kelowna-raised resident named Christine, a medical marijuana user, said since she’s moved to Lumby in 2005, it’s the best place she’s ever lived.
“This is the most magical area that I have ever been in,” she said.
“I’m 59 years old and I am so angry and disappointed in the RDNO.
“We don’t need huge facilities, there is industrial land in Lumby that is just sitting there wasting.
“Why would you cover over land to put in huge, ugly, ugly buildings.
“Please, use your brains.”
A total of 86 residents submitted letters ahead of the public hearing.
The proposed bylaw amendment will have its third reading at the RDNO board’s 4 p.m. meeting. If passed or amended, the proposal will have to be approved by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation before it can be adopted by council.