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Marijuana on council agenda

The City of Kelowna may move one step closer to allowing medical marijuana production facilities on agricultural land.

A much anticipated amendment to the city's zoning bylaw comes before council Monday which would create a new designation, A1m (Agriculture 1 with Medical Marijuana Production Facility).

The new designation would permit a MMPF on a site specific basis to be considered by council.

Should council approve the amendment, it would be forwarded to Public Hearing for public input and further consideration.

Initially, council balked at allowing such facilities on agricultural lands, voting in favour of a bylaw amendment that would specifically prohibit MMPF on agricultural lands.

"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."

Council later changed its mind and agreed to have staff bring back an amendment to the Agricultural zone to allow such facilities, however, those would be decided on a case by case basic by council.

According to a staff report the amendment is consistent with how Carriage Houses (A1c) and Agri-tourist accommodations (A1t) have been addressed through site specific regulations.

The report did outline five concerns with allowing Medical Marijuana Production Facilities on agricultural lands.

These include:

  • The potential sterilizing affect additional structures would have on viable agricultural land
  • The potential displacement of soil based agricultural operations and future soil based agricultural opportunities
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure (i.e.: water, wastewater management etc.)
  • the limited ability for repurposing the buildings under the allowed uses within the agricultural zones should the MMPF cease operating
  • Inflating the property value due to the additional structures, utilities and security measures required for this specific use thus increasing the entry level value of agricultural land, and thereby economically decreasing the viability of growing other crops in the future.

Previously, council has agreed to zoning amendments to allow production facilities on properties zoned I1 (Business Industrial), I2 (General Industrial), I3 (Heavy Industrial) and I4 (Central Industrial).

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