The City of West Kelowna will soon be home to a cannabis production facility after it was approved by council on Tuesday (Sept. 28).
Council heard during its meeting last week that the applicant wanted to use two buildings — 1305 and 1315 Industrial Road — as a cannabis production facility, but they applied for a variance permit, hoping to change the minimum setback from a residential area from 150 metres to 31 metres.
The city’s planning manager Brent Magnan said that 31 metres may not seem like a lot but the way zoning is measured, there would still be an extra 62 metres between the cannabis facility and the residential zone across Highway 97 from it.
Besides the application to change the minimum setback, the facility meets all of its zoning requirements for a cannabis facility.
Magnan did mention that the subject property has run into issues in the past. He said the original owner of the property was supportive of a cannabis production facility at the site and had gone ahead and started renovations to accommodate such an operation.
“We do have some compliance issues at the site that have been going on for a number of years. And those are related to the property owner who previously did interior renovations to support cannabis production without the appropriate permits,” he said.
“So they don’t have the building permits, they don’t have their production licenses, but they started doing the internal renovations… they haven’t done anything since then, but the owner now has someone who is interested in opening a production facility on this site and that would be engaging with the city’s building department to ensure all of those internal renovations are permitted and done appropriately.”
Some members of the community voiced their concerns about the location, as it would be close to residences as well as Hudson Road Elementary. There were also concerns about odour and increase in crime, all of which Magnan said bylaw services have not had problems with especially with existing facilities in other parts of the city.
Coun. Jason Friesen said he supported the proposed facility, as well as the request to minimize the setback.
“This isn’t a retail facility. The security that goes around this is actually pretty intense. We’re not hearing complaints about odour, we’re not hearing complaints about crime in the area (of existing facilities),” he said.
“So given all those items, I’m happy to support this today.”
Coun. Doug Findlater, however, was in opposition.
“A lot of time and effort and investigation went into creating the bylaws related to cannabis, cannabis production, sales and so on,” he said.
“Those bylaws have been in place for a little while and perhaps it’s time to update them to look at whether they are relevant in today’s context as things have evolved… but I don’t think we should be varying this on a one-off basis.”
Findlater said he would rather that production facilities like this follow all one bylaw instead of being approved on a one-on-one basis like this through permitting.