Pubdate: Fri, 29 Sep 2017
Source: Delta Optimist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc
Author: Sandor Gyarmati
Page: A1


Lois Jackson says municipal hall is receiving five to 10 inquiries a
day as legalization date less than a year off

There are a lot of questions that need answering before recreational
marijuana is legalized, says Mayor Lois Jackson.

There are a lot of questions that need answering before recreational
marijuana is legalized, says Mayor Lois Jackson, who's troubled Delta
could become the pot growing capital of Canada.

Jackson is attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in
Vancouver this week where members on Wednesday endorsed a resolution
asking for cities to have meaningful consultation on legalizing pot.

Cities are also calling on senior governments for enough funding to
cover policing and regulation costs, a fair share of tax revenues and
municipalities maintaining rights when it comes to zoning and land use
decisions. A Delta contingent discussed the same issues with federal
officials in Ottawa earlier this year.

"We are now looking at zoning, for instance. Can they put retail
outlets next to the schools or the main drags? How is that all going
to work? I'm not talking about medical marijuana here, that's totally
separate," said Jackson.

When it comes to zoning bylaws, the municipality already had a run-in
with a marijuana dispensary that tried had set up shop in North Delta
last year, having to go to court to obtain an injunction against the
business that refused to shut down.

An even bigger issue looms as Delta and its many thousands of acres of
farmland could find itself the pot growing capital of the country,
Jackson fears. One large-scale greenhouse operation, Village Farms in
East Ladner, already announced it would apply to convert part of its
vegetable operation to grow medical pot as well as non-therapeutic
marijuana when legalized by the feds next summer.

Three years ago, Delta passed a bylaw prohibiting the production,
storage, research or sale of medical marijuana anywhere in the

The bylaw initially applied to all zones, including agricultural,
although applications to grow the product would be considered on a
case-by-case basis.

The idea was to keep any potential operations out of farmland and
within industrial zones. After receiving Delta approval, Health Canada
granted one company, Zenabis West, the go-ahead to set up shot to grow
medical pot on Annacis Island.

However, the provincial government, which still has an
order-in-council restricting Delta's ability to regulate activities in
the ALR, struck down part of Delta's bylaw that prohibited the
production of medical pot on farmland, which could pave the way for
Village Farms and others.

Saying B.C. only has about five per cent of its land base that can
reasonably grow food, Jackson noted Delta has received dozens of
applications from companies looking to grow marijuana on farms, which
she views as a threat to food security.

"(Delta CAO) George Harvie said he's had five to 10 inquiries a day.
You've got to follow the money and there's big money in this. The ones
that are first to the post, I guess, are probably going to make a lot
of money," said Jackson.

The mayor added they've had some productive one-on-one meetings with
ministers of the new provincial government at the UBCM and were able
to convey Delta's concerns.

"I asked the agriculture minister (Lana Popham) today what is her
feeling on this. I really need some help because I've been on local
council for 40 years and fought to save every square foot of good
agricultural land in Delta. Are we going to give up the ability to
feed our people and simply rely on the United States?"

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth this month announced the
province is asking for the public's views on how the government should
regulate the distribution and retail sale of marijuana.

Canada's justice ministers, meanwhile, recently met with federal
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould asking for clarity and support.
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