Spallumcheen officials want tight restrictions when it comes to growing marijuana.
Council has given first reading to a bylaw that would only allow medicinal marijuana production in the industrial zone although staff had also originally recommended the use in agricultural zones.
“I don’t want to see it near residential and there can be people living in the agricultural class,” said Coun. Rachael Ganson.
However, the federal government may not accept the limitations in the bylaw. There could also be a conflict with the provincial Agricultural Land Commission, which has classified medicinal marijuana as a permitted use in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” said Mayor Janice Brown, adding that the federal government is speaking to Ottawa about where facilities can be located.
“They are discussing whether it will be an agricultural crop or a commercial crop.”
Ganson is convinced Spallumcheen must take the lead on where marijuana production occurs.
“The federal government is not even sure where they will allow it so that says to me that we still have some say over where it can be,” she said.
“We can get something in place and if they say no to just industrial, we can change it (back to agricultural land).”
Federal regulations are shifting marijuana production from home-based settings to large operations and that is creating challenges for municipalities and regional districts.
“The federal government may not concern itself with stuff local government does like (property) setbacks,” said Greg Betts, Spallumcheen chief administrative officer.
“They haven’t given us any confidence they will address the concerns of our community.”
Spallumcheen’s goal is to have a land-use strategy for marijuana production in place by the time the new federal rules begin in April.
“I’m concerned about getting something on the books,” said Betts.