One more reading and the City of Vernon will have an amended zoning bylaw in place to deal with the cultivation, processing and selling of cannabis in certain city zones.
Council gave a unanimous third reading (Coun. Dalvir Nahal was absent from the meeting) Monday evening to the bylaw amendment that, if adapted, will allow cannabis cultivation facilities in A1 — agriculture within the Agricultural Land Reserve — and I1 light industrial zones; and cannabis processing facilities in I1 and I4 (business park).
Cannabis retail sales would be permitted in 13 zones: mixed-use commercial; street-oriented commercial; community commercial; village commercial; heritage business district; central business district; regional commercial; tourist commercial; service commercial; convention hotel commercial; resort commercial; and C1 and C5 comprehensive development areas.
Close to 25 people attended the 45-minute hearing. Most of the discussion centred around the processing of cannabis, with a couple of councillors asking why processing would not be permitted in the A1 zone along with cultivation.
“Typically industrial uses are not encouraged or allowed on ALR lands and we take that as our starting point,” said Kim Flick, the city’s director of community infrastructure and development. “The city bylaw does not trump the Agricultural Land Commission. If the ALC says it can or can’t be done, we have to respect that.”
The only member of the public to speak at the hearing was Russ Stevenson, owner of Herb’s Healing Centre in Vernon, who said the problem he sees with having cultivation and processing on two separate properties at separate ends of town is that all plants have to be moved alive.
“We would have semitrailer loads of plants driving around town to get to the processors. It makes so much more sense if cultivation and processing were on the same properties,” said Stevenson, who does his growing hydroponically. “We can’t just take a plant out, throw it in the back of the truck and move it down. It’s dead before it gets there (processing facility) and it’s garbage. Rather than make everybody switch, you should look at having the two facilities together.”
After council unanimously passed third reading of the bylaw amendment as presented, Coun. Brian Quiring directed the administration to investigate the ramifications of allowing processing facilities within the ALR.
“That’s going to require communications with the ALC and the province,” said Quiring, whose motion was unanimously supported with Coun. Scott Anderson adding a friendly amendment asking staff to clarify the definition of processing.
Adoption of the bylaw is anticipated at the next regular council meeting, Dec. 10.