The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has referred a Naramata development variance permit application to Advisory Planning Commission.
The application, for 2864 Arawana Rd., is for an indoor cannabis production facility. The variance is needed for the building with a concrete base. The cannabis production general regulation requires a base consisting entirely of soil.
The property is 4.09 hectares in area and is around 3.3 kilometres north of Penticton’s city boundary. There are two houses and the indoor cannabis production building on the property.
The site is zoned for agriculture and surrounding properties are low-density residential lots, rural holdings and agriculture. The zoning bylaw considers indoor cannabis production to be agriculture use if the structure has a soil foundation.
In addition, the property is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, and under the land reserve’s use regulations, indoor cannabis production is considered a farm use. The regulation also states that cannabis produced in a building with a base entirely of soil is a farm use that may not be prohibited by a local government bylaw.
In a report to the board, Ben Kent, a planner with the regional district, said the zoning bylaw prohibition on concrete foundations in indoor cannabis production buildings was intended to prevent the alienation of agricultural lands.
Neighbours of the property sent letters to the regional district in opposition of the variance.
“Such a structure is in violation of the existing Agricultural Land Regulations, and we argue it must be rejected,” Harvey King and Tracy Kuhtz said in a letter.
“On a number of important points, this variance request is clearly contradictory to the conditions set out in the Agricultural Land Reserve use regulating cannabis production and would only serve to further undermine the integrity of the variance process and reward the bad decisions that have already been made in this case,” Nick and Berna Gammer wrote.
Kim Hoath and Randall Hunter said the regional district board has a responsibility to ensure rules and regulations are kept.
“You were put in this position of trust to apply legal principles to applications as this,” they said in a letter. “Approving this, or allowing variances to this application, goes against that public trust.”
A second application from the same property owner was to subdivide the parcel into a four-lot subdivision. This application was denied.
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