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Sechelt moves forward with new medpot bylaw

Medicinal Marijuana

District of Sechelt council is moving forward with a new medicinal marijuana bylaw that would allow pot production in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) on some properties zoned RR-2 as well as in some industrial properties zoned I-3, I-5, I-6 and I-7.

Under the new bylaw, facilities within the industrially zoned areas would also be allowed to produce marijuana derivatives and conduct marijuana research, testing and development.

Bylaw No. 25-266, 2015 (Medical Marijuana) calls for parcels within the ALR to be five hectares or more in size and be at least 1,000 metres from a school and 500 metres from any developed park. The bylaw also states “any predominantly residential comprehensive development zone” should be at least 100 metres from the lot.

Industrial areas included in the new medicinal marijuana bylaw have the same rules except lots must be 4,000 sq. metres or more in area.

Sechelt council gave first reading to the new bylaw at their July 8 regular council meeting, after rescinding first reading of a previous marijuana production bylaw that would have restricted growers to parcels of five hectares or more in the ALR.

Council heard from the public at two town hall meetings in April that the previously pitched bylaw wasn’t good enough.

“I want to say that this represents staff’s best approximation of what they heard at the information meetings,” Mayor Bruce Milne said during the July 8 council meeting.

“We will hear again from our community if it thinks we’ve got it or it needs a period of adjustment. That’s what the public hearing process is for, so we’ll have a full public hearing on that.”

The bylaw will need to be forwarded to neighbourhood associations and agencies for their comments before a public hearing is scheduled, likely in September, Milne said.

Until then, Seashore Organic Medicine will have to wait to see if the company’s proposed use of an industrial lot on Sechelt Inlet Crescent will conform to the District’s new rules.

Dave Greenway of Seashore Organic was at the July 8 meeting to ask for some reassurance from council on whether his company could be grandfathered in regardless of how the final bylaw comes together.

“I just really have one question,” Greenway said.

“We applied in June 2014. We’ve been going back and forth. We’ve spent over half a million dollars in the community. We’d like to see where we can go from here and we ask the council if they would grandfather us in at this point in time.”

Milne said council couldn’t answer that question during Wednesday night’s meeting.

“We would want a staff report on the implications of it,” Milne said before making the motion for a staff report to come back to council at a later date. All were in favour.

“That’s I think the strongest thing we can do right now, is to think through the implications of a formal report,” Milne said.

Along with the new proposed pot bylaw, the District of Sechelt is looking at new business licence rules for growers that would require a criminal background and reference check, building access and egress control, production control, monitoring and a payment of $10,000 for a medicinal and botanical manufacturing licence.