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About face on medical pot

Kelowna City Council has done a complete about face concerning where medical marijuana production facilities can be located.

Following Tuesday's public hearing council agreed to allow marijuana production facilities on agricultural land - a complete reversal from three weeks ago.

"This is an industrial use and not an agricultural use that requires the kinds of servicing and road access that an industrial property would require," Councillor Robert Hobson stated at the time.

"It's (marijuana) not an outdoor crop like corn. To me it makes sense to focus on industrial areas."

Tuesday, council was presented with an amendment to the current agricultural zone bylaw which would, in effect eliminate marijuana production as a permitted use.

"Council defeated the bylaw that would prohibit it and instead instructed staff to come back with a bylaw amendment that would permit it in agricultural zoned lands on a case-by-case basis," says City Clerk, Stephen Fleming.

"This would be an A1-M Zone. Similar to how, if you wanted a carriage home, you would have to rezone to a C Zone."

In essence, Fleming says council decided a prohibition on medical marijuana in agricultural lands is too restrictive.

Council agreed by a 5-2 vote.

Because council did not believe all A1 parcels of land were suitable, Fleming says staff was asked to craft a bylaw including where appropriate buildings should be located, setbacks etc.

"Staff will need to come back with the wording on a zone for what we are going to call A1-M. That will go to a public hearing process as well."

While that was happening council also agreed to give second and third readings to a bylaw allowing medical marijuana facilities in industrial areas zoned I2, I3 and I4.

City Clerk, Stephen Fleming says that bylaw will now be forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approval before the council can give it fourth and final reading.

Additionally, council asked that properties within I1 zones be included with the other industrial zones.

Staff will now be tasked with crafting that additional to the original Industrial Zone bylaw.

The changes were made necessary after Health Canada decided to scrap the current Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations effective March 31.

Under the old system, licence holders could produce medical marijuana anywhere within the city.

The new system, beginning April 1, will restrict production facilities to areas designated by individual communities and regional districts.

At the present time there are more than 1,000 licenced medical marijuana facilities in Kelowna.

Fleming says to date about 20 people have contacted the city with various levels of interest in obtaining a medical marijuana production licence through Health Canada.

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