There was “something in the air” during the public hearing on Aug. 20, and it was not what has been creating all of the buzz.
At the last council meeting, council adopted Bylaw No. 1348., which is a zoning bylaw that permits cannabis production in light industrial zones.
The District of 100 Mile House invited the public to share their opinion in regards to Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1357 – a bylaw that would enable the development of a craft cannabis production facility on Exter Truck Road. The public hearing was held inside the municipal chambers.
The public hearing focused on the proposed amendments that will propose a change in the district’s Community Plan for the subject property from commercial vehicle-oriented to industrial as well as an amendment to the zoning of the subject property, from smallholdings (A-2) to light industrial (I-1).
The public was able to inspect the proposed amendments during the regular municipal office hours, submit written letters expressing their concerns or attend the public hearing. Council said they received approximately 30 written submissions.
One concern residents expressed was the proposed zoning’s proximity to Hillside Community Church.
“If this zoning change takes place and what is proposed becomes a reality, it is definitely going to impact our dreams for the future of our institution,” said one local resident who represented the church. “There is absolutely no way that it will not negatively impact our people. A grow-op in the magnitude that is shown on the proposed plan for consideration, it’s one of the biggest marijuana grow-op operations I have ever seen.”
The biggest concerns residents expressed included the smell, water and the social impact. Residents in opposition to the proposed zoning amendment overruled those in favour.
Nigel Hemingway, the local resident who is representing the landowners for the proposed amendments, said the adoption of the proposed amendments is just the first step in the process.
“The first step is rezoning the land for local government to allow a facility such as that on the property,” said Hemingway. “After that, you go through processes with Canada Health that govern all sorts of things – air quality, the release of water, the employees and security.”
Hemingway said another misconception residents might have is the retail component.
“There is no retail,” said Hemingway. “Every product that is grown in there is sold to the provincial government and then it goes through their process.”
Coun. Ralph Fossum said at this point, council is only considering land use and zoning.
“There is no proponent to build immediately,” said Coun. Fossum. “Developers are asking and they will bypass 100 Mile House if there is no site available. The primary decision is if we are willing to allow a cannabis facility, that’s the decision for council.”
Council did not make any decision regarding the proposed amendments following the public hearing. The proposed amendments will be revisited at the next council meeting on Sept. 10.