West Kelowna wants medical pot growing confined to industrial areas

District is the first municipality in the Okanagan to address the issue since the federal government changed the rules.

West Kelowna is the first municipality in the Okanagan to tackle the controversial issue of identifying where it wants medicinal marijuana growing operations to be located in future.

The move came in light of announced federal government changes to the medical marijuana growing program that currently allows only licenced individuals to grow pot for medical purposes in their homes as well as in other approved locations.

But under new federal rules, Ottawa will stop issuing individuals with licences to produce marijuana for medical purposes Oct. 1 and, as of March 31, 2014, the cultivation of medical marijuana will no longer be permitted in private dwellings. Licences will now only go to companies.

On Tuesday, West Kelowna council voted 5-2 to only allow licensed grow operations in industrial areas in the future.

“I’m concerned about security,” said Coun. Bryden Winsby, who moved the motion that council supported. “My preference is to keep it in a building where it can be secure.”

But while the council wants licenced growers to only operate out of buildings in industrial areas, the province’s Agricultural Land Commission has said licenced marijuana growing is a recognized farm use and, as such, would be allowed in ALR land.

The ALC’s stance concerned council as it debated Winsby’s motion, with several councillors saying they felt the ALC’s position will trump the district’s desire to see it kept off farm land.

“We may be setting ourselves up for a confrontation with the ALC over this,” warned Mayor Doug Findlater, who supported Winsby’s motion.

Because council’s move will have to go to a public hearing as it requires a zoning amendment, West Kelowna residents will get to weigh in on the issue.

“That will be quite a public hearing,” predicted Coun. Duane Ophus.

No date has been set for the public hearing as staff must first prepare draft regulations for the zoning change.

A staff report prepared for council said while the City of Kamloops has moved ahead with a similar zoning amendment to restrict medical marijuana growing operation to industrial areas there, and Summerland has said it considers medical marijuana growing both an industrial and an agriculture use, none of five other major Okanagan cities—Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Lake Country or Peachland—have made, or are in the process of making, amendments to their existing zoning bylaws.

West Kelowna staff said there are currently four licenced medical marijuana operations in the district, three on industrial-zoned land and the fourth on land zoned commercial.

Only councillors Rick de Jong and David Knowles voted against Winsby’s motion, with de Jong saying he felt it was premature for council to deal it and Knowles saying getting into a fight with the ALC would be a “waste of time.”

But Findlater said he believed council was doing what its collective gut was telling it to do.

“This is pioneering,” he said. “There is no template for how to manage this issue.”

He added the key will be to make sure the pot producers do not bother others around them and that’s why he feels a secure and proper facility in an industrial location is the best place for commercial medical marijuana production.


Just Posted

Kelowna golf course ready and open for spring business

Two Eagles Golf Course opened Saturday, more to come

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA hopes annual climb will promote peace

MLA Norm Letnick’s 5th Annual Spring Climb for Health & World Peace is April 6

Possible assault to bus driver in Kelowna

A minor bus crash was reported just after 8 p.m. Friday night

Car crash nearly sends car over embankment in West Kelowna

RCMP search for driver of alleged stolen vehicle that caused crash

Update: Highway 3 reopened following rockslide near Keremeos

The slide occurred Friday March 22, at about 8 p.m. between Red Bridge and Standing Rock

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Letter: Stop raising the minimum wage

To the editor: The government is looking for ways to put more… Continue reading

Letter: Immigration will not help other countries, or our own

To the editor: Firearms are not the culprit in all those massive… Continue reading

Letter: Sprawl destroying natural landscape

To the editor: I agree with the assessment by Ian Pooley in… Continue reading

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Most Read