An industrial property in the Port Mellon area could be the site of a large-scale medical marijuana production facility if the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board approves the property owner’s application for a zoning bylaw amendment.
Richnor Recycling Ltd. is proposing a 12,000-square-foot (1,080-square-metre) medical marijuana grow operation that would be spread out over four to five floors in an existing building on Horsethief Road, south of Hillside Industrial Park.
The 1.9-hectare property is isolated from residential neighbourhoods, includes adequate setbacks and is currently being used as a mechanical repair shop for heavy equipment, an office and warehouse, staff reported at the SCRD’s Dec. 19 planning and development committee meeting.
The owner has indicated that electricity, water and a security fence are already in place on the four lots comprising the total property area, staff told the committee.
The proposed bylaw amendment would add marijuana production facility as a permitted use for the property, which is zoned I5B.
Staff noted that marijuana production, “provided all regulations are adhered to, will likely have lower impact than many of the uses” allowed within the I5B zone, which include wood processing, auto wrecking, log booming and sorting, sand and gravel processing, and animal processing.
The SCRD is currently considering a draft bylaw that would permit medical marijuana production only in Hillside Industrial Park (I7 zone) and rural lots in the RU2 and RU3 zones that are eight hectares (19.8 acres) or more.
In their report to the committee, planner Andrew Allen and planning technician Lesley Ann Staats said the I5B zone was not included in the draft bylaw because some of the parcels are relatively close to residential lots in Williamson Landing.
“If other I5B-zoned properties are to be considered for medical marijuana processing uses, they can be considered on their own merits, complete with an analysis,” the report said.
The Richnor property, the report said, is similar to Hillside’s industrial lots, containing existing buildings and surrounded by industrial uses. The application was also deemed consistent with the Twin Creek official community plan.
“Planning staff believe there is scope to support moving this application to first reading and consultation,” the report concluded.
The committee recommended first reading of the bylaw amendment, while referring it for comment to the West Howe Sound advisory planning commission (APC), Squamish and Sechelt First Nations, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
A public information meeting will be held prior to consideration of second reading.
While the property is located within Squamish Nation territory, board chair Garry Nohr suggested the application be shared with Sechelt Nation as well, saying there had been requests to establish medical marijuana facilities on Band lands.
The committee also agreed to provide the APC and public with details on federal regulations under the new medical marijuana program that takes effect April 1.
Gibsons alternate director Lee Ann Johnson said it was important for people to understand the security measures and other requirements mandated by Health Canada for commercial production facilities that are licensed under the program.
Health Canada’s website lists three licensed producers authorized under the new system.