West Kelowna  

A large crowd is expected for a public hearing in West Kelowna

Physical distancing tested

West Kelowna's plans to ensure physical distancing is maintained will be put to the test when the city holds its first public hearing.

The city, which briefly suspended public hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be holding its first public hearing in three months Tuesday after developing protocols to do so safely, and in accordance with provincial health office, and legislative requirements.

The process will include mayor and council taking part remotely from home with staff, applicants and the public speaking from council chambers.

Tuesday's public hearing will likely test those guidelines, with a large number of residents from Crystal Springs manufactured home park expected to descend upon city hall to speak out against a proposed cannabis production facility adjacent to their property.

City officials would not respond to Castanet's attempt to learn what the physical distancing and large gathering plan entails.

They say that will be released to the public Monday.

Fourteen residents of the park sent submissions to the city prior to the Tuesday morning deadline to have submissions included with the staff report for council.

Two late submissions had also come in as of late Friday afternoon.

It's not clear how many residents plan to address council directly Tuesday.

Most of those who have already responded are concerned about safety and odour concerning the facility, and the potential loss in property value.

Some residents of the 55 and over park are also concerned about breathing and health issues they fear will be heightened if the plant is allowed to go ahead.

Council, which has already given initial approval for the facility, is being asked to approve a rezoning application to allow for cannabis production within a building that includes multiple tenants, not whether it is actually allowed on the property.

During initial consideration, Coun. Jason Friesen told angry residents of Crystal Springs a cannabis production facility is already an allowed use on the property, which is zoned industrial.

The only issue, he said, is whether production could take place within a building housing multiple tenants.

"If you come to the public meeting and say it's going to stink, yes it's going to stink, but it is allowed. Keep that in mind... understand what it is we are actually discussing," he said at the time.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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