Cannabis facility in Gibsons goes to public hearing

Gibsons council will hold a public hearing July 14 on the first zoning application for a cannabis production facility to come forward since legalization.

The Town’s zoning bylaws list cannabis production or sale as a prohibited use in all zones, which means anyone wanting to set up as a grower or retailer needs to apply for a spot rezoning.

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An application from the owners of 1037 Venture Way was put on hold by the Town’s planning and development committee in April because council had not yet adopted its cannabis retail and production policy.

With that policy now on the books, the Venture Way rezoning was back before the committee June 24 and a special meeting of council on June 26.

The policy adopted by council limits the number of cannabis production facilities in the town to four and says they can only be located on properties within the “Service Commercial / Business Centre” land use designations, and must be 150 metres from schools.

The lot on Venture Way meets those criteria, but planning department staff said in their written report that the other requirement – that cannabis production facilities may not be located within 100 metres of each other – is harder to check.

“While it is relatively simple to ensure that a property is outside the 150m radius of both schools in the town, it is difficult to assess which properties, while not zoned for cannabis production facilities, are currently operating under a federal production licence or personal production licence,” the report said, noting that Health Canada does not share that information with the Town.

At the committee meeting in April, there was some concern about a lack of information regarding the specifics of the owner’s plans, including building design, and Mayor Bill Beamish said June 24 that he still has those concerns.

“I’m certainly comfortable myself to see it go through to public hearing, but at some point in time I would like to understand what the owner’s plan is and his capacity,” Beamish said. “This is the start of a long road for the owner.”

Zoning needs to be in place before owners can go to Health Canada for licensing, which also means the building hasn’t been designed yet because it would have to meet Health Canada guidelines determined during the licensing.

Councillors Annemarie De Andrade and David Croal said they would also like to see more information about the odour control measures planned if the facility goes forward.

In response to a request for input from the Town, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said it doesn’t typically get involved in production facility regulation, but VCH environmental health officer Chris Morse said it’s important for facilities to be designed in a way that does not cause a health nuisance, “specifically in the area of noise and odour.”

“There are no formal thresholds for measurement for these nuisances,” Morse said. “But it would be prudent to ask the applicant how they intend to ensure that odour and noise are controlled.”

The necessary zoning amendment bylaw passed first and second reading at the June 26 special council meeting, and a public hearing has been scheduled to be held electronically on July 14 at 5:30 p.m.

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