The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board has given the green light to a new policy around growing marijuana on rural properties.
A policy on land use applications for cannabis production was adopted by the RDN board Tuesday, following an electoral area services committee recommendation, and will provide guidance to rural residents and staff when dealing with land-use applications to allow the production of cannabis.
When the current zoning bylaw was drafted, only large production facilities were licensed by Health Canada, said Paul Thompson, RDN manager of current planning, at the Feb. 19 electoral service committee meeting, and cannabis production facilities are only permitted on the Agricultural Land Reserve and in industrial zones in Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers and Errington area). But, according to a staff report, the new federal regulations “are now less onerous, allowing for smaller scale, more economically feasible operations” and RDN staff have fielded numerous questions regarding marijuana production on smaller electoral area lots, not specifically zoned for that purpose.
The aim is to provide clarity and consistency when zoning amendment and temporary-use applications are submitted seeking permission to produce marijuana in such areas, said Thompson. The policy is for production facilities only and doesn’t apply to retail, he said.
Future site-specific zoning amendment applications will add marijuana production as a new permitted use, with specific conditions associated as deemed appropriate, in addition to existing permitted uses in the zoning associated with the subject property and the board will consider applications on a case-by-case basis, said the report.
The policy also has guidelines for evaluating the impact to the community. Areas of concern could include how close the producer is to neighbouring neighbouring properties, odour, waste disposal and security and the goal of the policy is to limit or eliminate impacts, while affording licence holders the chance for economic development, the report said.
“We need to be able to be clear and consistent each time we talk to people saying, if you want to make an application, here’s what you need to provide for us in order to review this application,” said Thompson. “So you can see from the … policy, we’re trying to make sure that the concerns are addressed that generally come up when it comes to this type of use. General considerations are to do with, setbacks, security, waste disposal, number of employees, size of production, those sorts of things.”