Commercial producers of medical marijuana are to be licensed by Ottawa but cities say they want them to be allowed only in industrial zones.

Commercial producers of medical marijuana are to be licensed by Ottawa but cities say they want them to be allowed only in industrial zones.

Keep medical marijuana off farmland, cities say

Lower Mainland leaders say new pot factories an industrial use

Lower Mainland politicians want any new licensed medical marijuana factories built on industrial land, not already scarce farmland.

A resolution passed Thursday by the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) urges the Union of B.C. Municipalities to lobby for the industrial-only land restriction as the federal government prepares to approve new large-scale indoor growers.

Ottawa announced in January it will phase out individual licences for medical marijuana users to grow pot in their own homes and instead have all medical pot grown and distributed by highly regulated, secure commercial operators.

Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner said medical marijuana is a pharmaceutical that should be grown in industrial zoned areas rather than competing against food crops for

agricultural land that’s already too expensive for some prospective conventional farmers.

“We would be utilizing a lot of agricultural land for something that could be in a greenhouse environment in an industrial zone,” Hepner said.

“We don’t want to see all our agricultural food space in marijuana,” added outgoing LMLGA president Barbara Steele.

Also backing the resolution were several politicians from Fraser Valley communities.

The federal health ministry intends to launch the new system by April of 2014.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin is one local leader who disagreed.

“We feel very strongly our industrial park is not the appropriate place,” he said.

The main concerns, Daykin said, are odour for neighbours and whether operators have tough enough security to fend off grow-rips by gangsters.

Maple Ridge wanted the federally regulated pot growers to instead be limited to agricultural parcels, with large setbacks, similar to what would be used for a mushroom or hog farm.

“We’ve got somebody who is already interested in putting up a 26,000 square foot facility,” Daykin said.

Hydroponic pot farms grown in well-gated industrial buildings would still be a good fit on low-quality agricultural land with marginal soils, he said.

Daykin dismissed concerns that weed might crowd out food crops.

“The reality is there’s probably only going to be 60 to 70 of these facilities across the country,” he said. “We might get one or we might not get one. It won’t hurt my feelings if we don’t.”

A big concern for Daykin and other Lower Mainland leaders is what will be done to enforce the shutdown of existing federally approved medical marijuana growers, which have long been criticized for safety hazards and ties to the illegal drug trade.

Health Canada won’t share their locations with local cities, so civic teams continue to conduct fire safety inspections that root out many growers.

Medical marijuana grows often turn out to be in violation of health, fire, building or plumbing safety regulations.

“The big issue for us is the fire hazard – the grow ops in the residential areas that go up in smoke,” Steele said.

Just Posted

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read