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City holds off on marijuana zoning

Some city councillors would like to see licensed marijuana production facilities on agricultural land, others on industrial land, while at least one is intrigued with the idea of not allowing any.

Council recently received a letter from the City of Pitt Meadows noting their council passed a bylaw prohibiting the growing, storing, processing, testing or distribution of cannabis in all zones within the municipality. The decision to pass the bylaw was influenced by one, financial implications associated with BC Assessment’s confirmation that commercial medical marijuana operations might qualify to be assessed at farm rates, whether or not they are located in agricultural areas, and two, concerns regarding the lack of services, emergency access and potential impact on neighbouring properties in agricultural areas.

In response, Coun. Alan Harrison said he is interested in how Pitt Meadows makes out with the bylaw, stating he quite likes it, if it works.

City development services director Kevin Pearson, however, reminded council of a recent staff report that suggests what Pitt Meadows is doing is questionable.

He said some municipalities are going that route, but, for the time being, Salmon Arm is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“I’ve received feedback from some of the councillors who indicated they would like to see that use occur in the industrial zones, and some of the other councillors indicating they would like to see the use in the agricultural zones,” said Pearson. “The OCP policies that we have would support that type of use in either industrial or agricultural zones.”

Pearson added the cities of Kelowna and Vernon recently changed their position on appropriate zoning, and are now allowing medical marijuana production facilities on agriculturally-zoned properties.

“There’s a lot of flip-flopping going on and because of that, I’ve decided to just sort of stay dormant on this until we get a proposal,” said Pearson.

New federal regulations restricting the production of medicinal marijuana were supposed to go into effect April 1, but an injunction was granted after a federal court judge ruled patients licensed to grow under prior regulations could continue to do so. The federal government intends to appeal the ruling.

Under the new regulations there are currently 13 licensed producers in Canada authorized to sell or provide medical marijuana.

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