Kelowna readies bylaw change for medical marijuana grown on farms

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KELOWNA - Changes to the city’s agricultural zoning bylaw regarding medical marijuana production facilities are coming soon.

Planner Melanie Steppuhn says city staff have been working with bylaw standards put forth by the Agricultural Land Commission in 2014 in crafting an amendment to the city's A1 zoning bylaw.

Steppuhn says the standards will be used by communities across the province and set out parameters on such things as minimum lot size and building height.

Because it is now an allowable farm use, communities cannot stop a medical marijuana producer licensed by Health Canada from setting up shop on agricultural land, but Steppuhn views the bylaw standards as helpful.

“The standards are positive for local government because it gives us some ability to have input into such things as lot coverage and adjacency to parks and schools,” Steppuhn adds.

The ALC bylaw standards suggest a maximum 35 per cent lot coverage with a 150-metre setback from parks and schools and a building no higher than 15 metres.

Medical marijuana production facilities will need a 30 metre buffer from residential areas that are not within the agricultural land reserve and must keep the same distance away from watercourses.

Steppuhn says the city’s bylaw cannot exceed those standards although they are free to set a lower standard in some cases.

While the city has lost some control over where the facilities are located, Steppuhn says the security standards demanded by Health Canada means people living near a production facilty have little to worry about.

“The overall permitting and licensing is done through Health Canada and it’s a very rigourous process,” she says.

The city’s industrial zoning bylaw already allows medical marijuana production although Steppuhn says no one has asked yet to set up shop.

“We’ve had enquiries and people coming to us saying they are in the process but nobody has been approved yet,” she adds.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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