Sechelt council unanimously voted to authorize the preparation and issuing of a development permit for Medma Cannabis Pharms Inc. to set up a medical marijuana facility on Sechelt Inlet Crescent during their July 9 committee of the whole meeting. At the July 16 regular council meeting, however, councillors Mike Shanks and Alice Lutes changed their minds, but it wasn’t enough to change the vote.
“At our meeting last week, I voted in favour, but since that time I have had an awful lot of contact from the neighbouring lease holders at Sechelt Inlet Crescent who were not notified and were not taken into consideration,” Lutes said.
“I know this is all conforming and the only variance is on the septage and the setback, but unfortunately, what’s happened here is a lack of communication with the community.”
Shanks also said he felt “misled in terms of the support that this development had from the neighbours.”
Councillors had previously been told Medma Cannabis Pharms Inc. had spoken with the neighbours and no concerns were raised.
Medma wants to locate a medical marijuana production facility on lot 14 in the industrial park on Sechelt Crescent in East Porpoise Bay. The medical marijuana producer would operate under the new Health Canada guidelines to provide legal medical marijuana to customers via a courier service. No sales would be made on site and no customers would come to the facility, a staff report said.
There is currently a medical marijuana producer in the same industrial park that has been operating for about a year under the old rules.
Mayor John Henderson said the current producer would have to “change to be under the new rules,” to continue but noted, “that’s a Health Canada regulation so it wouldn’t come back to us.”
Medma Cannabis Pharms Inc. is planning to erect a two-storey, steel, 433-square metre building surrounded by a 2.13-metre high fence in the industrial park, just a few doors down from the current producer.
While the use is conforming under the District of Sechelt’s current industrial zoning bylaw, the proposal requires two variances to lessen the setback from the property boundary and allow an on-site sewage system, which is why it came to council for approval.
At this week’s regular council meeting, Lutes asked to delay approval until the community could be consulted.
Coun. Chris Moore suggested that “using a development permit to restrict usage, a usage that is permitted under the zoning” was a “slippery road” that could “get the District sued … We will go down the same road as Target Marine. This is a permitted use and we’re using a vehicle, a development permit from my understanding, which governs form and character to restrict usage,” Moore said.
He added that he’d be “extremely disappointed” if Medma’s development permit wasn’t granted and that “it would be a war call for me.”
Lutes said she wanted to “give the community a bit of time,” but that she wasn’t against granting the development permit. “I just would like to see them start out on a good foot with their neighbours by having the consultation and the information sharing in order to put everybody’s mind at ease,” she said.
In the end the motion to prepare and issue a development permit for Medma Cannabis Pharms Inc. passed with Lutes and Shanks against. Council also asked staff to put together a public information meeting with someone from Health Canada to explain the new medical marijuana rules and regulations to constituents in the future.
© Coast Reporter