Pubdate: Wed, 16 Apr 2014
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2014 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Pirjo Raits


Concerns Seem To Out Weigh Benefits

An amendment to zoning Bylaw 582 would have seen Medical Marijuana
Production Facilities as permitted uses in rural, agricultural and
industrial zones in the District of Sooke.

The amendment had already passed unanimously through first and second
reading in February, 2014, but at the April 14 council meeting some
members of council backed away from endorsing the bylaw. Amendments
also included definitions of "horticulture" and "Medical Marijuana
Production Facilities (MMPF)."

A public hearing was held on April 14 to guage the public sentiment on
the zoning amendment.

Only one person stood up to speak to the issue. Michael Nyikes,
president of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce, stated investors
had met with the chamber and had multi-millions of dollars to spend on
medical marijuana production facilities.

"It is an economic development opportunity," said Nyikes. "It creates
local jobs and local convenience and additional tax revenue."

There were comments made about the tax revenue from those agricultural
properties versus commercial tax revenue. If the property is used for
agriculture, ie: MMPFs, then the tax rate is calculated accordingly.
It would not be commercial.

A motion was made by Councillor Herb Haldane to keep all MMPFs in the
Agricultural Land Reserve.

Discussion ensued on the agricultural zones located in the Whiffin
Spit area and the possibility that MMPFs could be located there.

Mayor Wendal Milne stated he was worried about the impact on
neighbours if MMPFs were attached to a specific zone.

Councillor Kerrie Reay said she felt this whole MMPF issue was moving
too quickly and that marijuana was still an illegal drug.

There was discussion on the rights of people who are already growing
medical marijuana for themselves.

Councillor Rick Kasper said he did not want to see "people's rights

It was made clear that on issues of what happens on ALR land, the
Agricultural Land Commission was in charge and their authority trumped
the district's.

Concerns were raised by referral agencies as to location of MMPFs, as
in proximity to regional parks and trails, setbacks, access to site in
case of emergency, hazardous materials on site and the need for a fire
safety plan.

Planner Gerard LeBlanc said that restrictions could be put into place
in the bylaw to limit where MMPFs could be located.

In March the Federal Court granted an interlocutory constitutional
exemption allowing production of medical marijuana in a home or
private dwelling legal, thereby preserving the rights of authorized
users and producers. This would be for a set period before it came
before the court again.

In the end vote, it was a tie and the motion was defeated. Council
made a motion to wait until the federal court case is settled to deal
with this issue - in about nine months.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D