North Cowichan wants to remind the province that the municipality is against the siting of medical marijuana grow operations on Agricultural Land Reserve land.
At its meeting on April 4, council decided to send a letter to Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham reiterating North Cowichan’s long-standing preference against the siting of medicinal pot operations on ALR land, with a preferred alternative of siting them on industrially-zoned lands where possible.
The letter will also state that if pot production is allowed in the ALR, North Cowichan should be granted authority to establish development permit requirements to address the siting of these facilities to reduce their impact.
There are currently no medical marijuana production facilities on agricultural land in North Cowichan, and no applications have been submitted to establish any to date.
Coun. Al Siebring, who made the motion to send the letter, said he felt it was a good time for North Cowichan to again add its voice to the issue after the City of Victoria and the Capital Regional District corresponded with the ministry stating they would also like to see medicinal pot operations located off of ALR land.
“Why should we be using good farmland for operations like these that can be placed in other areas?” Siebring asked.
“We wanted to add our voice to this discussion. We always said that we would prefer that these marijuana operations not be placed in ALR land so we took this opportunity to keep the pressure on.”
Council decided to allow medical marijuana growing facilities on North Cowichan’s agricultural land reserve properties for the first time in June.
The decision was made reluctantly after North Cowichan, and other B.C. municipalities, were sent a set of guidelines from the ministry that local governments are encouraged to follow in adopting bylaws for marijuana growing facilities.
The guidelines are not binding on North Cowichan and other municipalities, but the province made it clear that failing to conform to its recommended bylaw standards may leave local governments vulnerable to a constitutional challenge for frustrating a lawful initiative of the federal government.
Such a challenge could render non-conforming provisions of local government bylaws void and of no force and effect.