Nelson city council has started the process of rezoning a piece of Railtown land for indoor cannabis cultivation.
The vacant property at 45 Government Road, which was once a fuel cardlock facility, was recently purchased by the Nelson Cannabis Collective, which applied to the city for the rezone.
The proposed 1,810 square metre facility would, according to the proponents, provide up to 20 part-time and full-time jobs.
The current zoning allows a variety of commercial and industrial uses, but not cannabis cultivation. If the re-zoning eventually passes, it will allow cultivation on that site only, not on neighbouring sites.
Council passed first and second reading on Monday. The matter will now go to a public hearing at which neighbours and other interested people may comment before council makes a final decision.
Councillor Janice Morrison was concerned that it might use too much water, given Nelson’s precarious water supply.
“This is a water and energy intensive industry better suited to be outside the city where they could use other sources,” she said.
“As we see development in Railtown and other places, water could become a concern and we pledged to come at these things with a climate change lens. We need to look at this in budget meetings and look at water metering.”
Councillors Cal Renwick and Rik Logtenberg agreed.
The city’s public works head Colin Innes told council that according to the proponent, the business would use an amount of water equivalent to three households.
“We were concerned about this (at first),” Innes said. “But it will be watering in pots, not water flowing through it. I would be prepared (to take them at their word), but we should monitor it.”
Mayor John Dooley asked Innes what would happen if the facility exceeded its usage claim. Innes replied that a water meter could be applied to it and the excess charged for.
Logtenberg conceded that if the business uses only three households worth of water, he didn’t think it is a problem.
The collective is led by Mitchell Scott, one of the founders of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine, and Phil Penfold, one of the principals at Retallack Lodge.
The proposed business would host multiple cultivators and there would be no retail sales or consumption on site.
At a public information session held by the cannabis collective on Sept. 18, one of their neighbours’ biggest concerns was smell, but the company states there will be no smell because of the facility’s advanced filtration technology and the fact that it is indoors.
A date for the public hearing has not been set.