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.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Temporary rail trail detour will allow upgrade to Nelson’s water source

City will be laying a water line between Stanley Street and Mountain Station parking lot

Water quality advisory issued for Nelson

Run-off has created a high level of turbidity in the city’s drinking water

Mercer Celgar announces 30 days of downtime at Castlegar mill in July

Sawlog stumpage charges on pulpwood and complex stumpage rules some reasons for downtime

Evacuation orders for Duhamel, Salmo-Ymir and Crawford Creek rescinded

RDCK warns public that streams are still dangerous

Work begins on new affordable housing building in Nelson

The 39-unit project is expected to be complete by July 2021

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

Most Read