Evergreen Medicinal operates this marijuana bunker near Michell Farms in Central Saanich near the border with Saanich to grow medicinal marijuana. Saanich plans to pass bylaw changes that would prohibit such bunkers for growing recreational marijuana on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Black Press file photo)

Saanich to smoke out pot bunkers in Agricultural Land Reserve

Pending bylaw changes will crack down on high-yield structures

Saanich has specified the conditions for local farmers who want to grow marijuana on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Bylaw changes awaiting ratification stipulate federally-licensed pot farming in the ALR qualifies as farm use if it happens in an open field; in structures, whose respective bases consist completely of soil; in pre-existing structures (such as greenhouses with concrete pads) constructed for the purpose of growing crops; or structures for the purpose of growing crops under construction prior to July 13 — the deadline identified in a Aug. 15 bulletin from the Agricultural Land Commission concerning the cultivation of marijuana in the ALR.

Cannabis growing operations that do not meet those conditions represent non-farm uses that require approval from the Agricultural Land Commission under provincial regulations that allow municipal governments to control but not restrict the conditions of cannabis production.

RELATED: Saanich wants bunkers to be off limits for cannabis growing

Saanich council asked staff earlier this year to develop measures that would limit construction of the bunker-style pot-growing facilities in the ALR.

“The fear is we’ll see a proliferation of concrete-style bunkers on farmland which will render the fields otherwise useless,” said then-councillor Dean Murdock. “We’re more concerned with activities as part of the production that is detrimental to farmland.”

Proposed changes to Saanich’s bylaws will go before council on Monday. If approved, they will give the marijuana industry additional guidance when it comes to cannabis production on ALR land in Saanich.

RELATED: Central Saanich pot farm now on hold

A Saanich councillor has already voiced opposition to most of the pending bylaw changes.

Coun. Nathalie Chambers said she “adamantly” opposes cannabis production on land in the ALR or land zoned agriculture outside the ALR with the proviso that she is open to open field growing.

“It [cannabis production] is an industrial use,” she said. “It deserves to pay industrial tax [instead of farm tax]. It is not organic.”

Chambers said she would like to consult with the public about the various aspects of producing recreational cannabis. “This is going to be a huge business on Vancouver Island,” she said, adding that the production of cannabis represents a “climate change favourable business.” While it will require regulation and education to ensure community safety, it could boost Saanich’s business and industrial sector, said Chambers.

“I envision a funky light industrial area with local businesses and crafters [among others], potentially with mixed housing,” she said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Royal Bay Secondary students take flight in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Play tells the story of the orphan who becomes Peter Pan

Sidney designer showing killer collection at Van Fashion Week

A young Sidney designer is showing her 14 piece collection Obsidian Nights at Vancouver Fashion Week

Greater Victoria MP Randall Garrison calls on Ottawa to extend peacekeeping mission in Mali

The Esquimalt-Sooke-Saanich MP just returned from a trip to Mali and Senegal

Invasive crab spotted near Sooke

Fisheries need more data to know if numbers are increasing

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read