Township questions tax loss

Spallumcheen had originally planned on permitting marijuana production facilities on industrial lands

The problem isn’t with medical marijuana grow-ops themselves.

The problem is communities losing taxation revenue from said grow-ops.

That’s what Spallumcheen Coun. Joe Van Tienhoven discovered in talking with peers at last week’s Southern Interior Local Government Association convention in Penticton.

“The impression is that nobody wants medical marijuana grow-ops in their area or they are opposed to them,” said Van Tienhoven at Monday’s regular township council meeting.

“They’re not opposed to medical marijuana. They’re opposed to the fact that the taxation has been taken away.”

Van Tienhoven said it’s the federal government that wants medical marijuana operations in industrial areas, but he said the feds haven’t considered the provincial and agricultural land reserve (ALR) rules and regulations.

“Nobody seems to have a clear direction of what, where and how,” he said.

Spallumcheen had originally planned on permitting marijuana production facilities on industrial lands. But due to tax implications, the township is now looking at permitting use on agricultural land.

The township wants to assist the existing operations, but must also consider the impact on area residents.

One main reason for Spallumcheen’s decision to include agricultural land is the Agricultural Land Commission’s stance.

“If a land owner is lawfully sanctioned to produce marijuana for medical purposes, the farming of said plant in the Agricultural Land Reserve is allowed and would be interpreted by the ALC as being consistent with the definition of ‘farm use’ under the ALC Act.”

Council will discuss the matter at a committee of the whole meeting May 26 at 3 p.m.

The bylaw changes mean that there will be another public hearing on the matter, although a date has not been officially set.