A bunker-like medical marijuana growing facility on Vancouver Island was approved before legalization of recreational marijuana was declared across Canada last year, sparking concerns that farmland would be covered with concrete and greenhouses to meet demand. (Black Press Media)

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

B.C.’s local government organization says it was blindsided by a provincial policy change that declared all cannabis production in the Agricultural Land Reserve as farm use.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities found out in early May that a regulation change in February means the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is no longer dealing with applications to grow cannabis.

Farming communities around the province have pressed the B.C. government to protect farmland from large greenhouse complexes for legal marijuana taking up the province’s scarce food-growing land. ALC regulations prevent concrete pads from being put on farmland to grow marijuana, and now the change leaves local governments with the task of controlling how much farmland is covered by cannabis fields grown in soil.

READ MORE: Farmland protection petition reaches B.C. legislature

READ MORE: Saanich to smoke out pot bunkers in farmland reserve

“UBCM was not consulted on the legislative and regulator change that have changed the characterization of cannabis production in the ALR,” UBCM president Arjun Singh said in a letter to B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson this week.

“As it appears that many local governments were unaware of the change to consider all cannabis production as farm use, and that consequently the ALC would no longer be considering applications for cannabis production, the amendments have had the effect of creating a three-month gap in which some forms of cannabis production may have been unregulated in terms of ALC oversight and/or local government land use regulations.

“Given the requirements for creating or amending local government bylaws, it is foreseeable that this gap could continue to exist for many more months.”

The UBCM executive is also writing to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, asking why the change was not communicated to local governments, and the status of applications that the ALC may have received for non-farm-use cannabis production since February.

The UBCM is also still waiting for word on a revenue sharing formula with the province and local governments for legal cannabis sales. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch still has only one cannabis store, and private stores have slowly been opening around B.C. as federally licensed suppliers have struggled to keep up with demand.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Deeply sorry’: Former West Kelowna teacher offers emotional apology to student he sexually exploited

Judge will make decision on Bradley Furman’s sentencing in the coming weeks

Not-for-profit Kelowna dental clinic to celebrate 15 year anniversary with event on Friday

Dental staff at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission will host event at 2509B Leon Avenue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m..

Kelowna photo contest gets people thinking about respect

Snowboard and ski packages, wine tastings, gift cards all up for grabs in Respect Lives Here contest

South Okanagan rescue hopes to find injured hawk’s owner

The South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls found the rare Harris hawk on Thursday

Big White warns skiers to avoid tree wells after two fatalities at other resorts

Tree wells form when low branches at the base of coniferous trees stop snow from settling at the trunk

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Health upgrades in South Okanagan and Similkameen forecast to cost nearly $10 million

Capital projects include CT scanner, medical vacuum system, ultrasounds and more

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Most Read