Cariboo Regional District adopts bylaws allowing non-medical cannabis production

All types of federally-licensed cannabis production facilities are allowed in heavy industrial zones

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) has set out its zoning requirements for cannabis production facilities and lifted its moratorium on retail cannabis sales applications.

At its Aug. 23 meeting, the CRD board of directors approved text amendments to update cannabis-related definitions in the regional district’s zoning and rural land use bylaws to match with federal legislation. With the updated wording, all types of federally-licensed cannabis production facilities are now allowed within heavy industrial zones in the CRD, outside the municipalities.

The CRD held a public hearing regarding the proposed amendments for non-medical cannabis production Aug. 8, and CRD Chair Margo Wagner says although the public hearing was well-publicized and was even publicized over and above what the CRD is required to do, nobody attended the hearing in person.

“We did have three written submissions, one in support and two urging us to consider small-scale production, but none of the people who wrote letters came to the hearing,” said Wagner.

Wagner says there were several reasons for choosing heavy industrial zones as the appropriate place for cannabis production facilities.

“Medical marijuana facilities were already allowed in heavy industrial zones, so we just expanded the language to include all types of federally-licensed production facilities,” she said. “The reason we chose heavy industrial zones initially is because they support large-scale operations like this because a lot of heavy industrial business requires a lot of power, which usually requires three-phase power, and also, a lot of them require good access to water. So in a lot of the other areas where you might think it might be a good place to have a production facility, accessibility to water and the amount of power they need just aren’t there.”

These amendments follow the adoption in June of a policy regarding non-medical cannabis retail sales within the CRD.

The new policy means that cannabis retail stores will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in commercial zones only through a site-specific rezoning application. The policy also outlines that cannabis retail locations must be 300 metres from daycares, community care facilities, hospitals, libraries, parks, playgrounds, schools and other cannabis retail sales establishments.

According to Wagner, the CRD has received one application for a cannabis retail store so far, but the application is confidential as it goes through the CRD’s process.

With these new policies and bylaws on cannabis in place, the CRD board also decided at its Aug. 23 meeting to lift its moratorium on approvals of cannabis retail applications.

The moratorium had been in place since February 2018.

“We decided to lift it now because we do have more information from the Province, and we’ve got our bylaws and policies in place regarding cannabis, and so now, we were more comfortable lifting it,” said Wagner. “It seemed a little more appropriate now to lift it because we were concerned with a lack of guidance from the Province and the fact we hadn’t gotten our ducks in a row either, we were kind of leaving ourselves open to pretty much anything.”

Anyone who wishes to establish a non-medical cannabis retail store in the regional district needs to apply to the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), as licensing is administered by the provincial government. The Province will refer the application to the CRD, and staff will then initiate the rezoning requirement.

People who are interested in cannabis production or retail sales in the CRD can contact the planning department at 250-392-3351.

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