Public hearing on medicinal pot ‘interesting’

Medical marijuana zone among some ideas put forward

The first of three public hearings being held in the South Cariboo on potential bylaw changes to accommodate the medical marijuana industry indicated overall support for the idea.

While only about a dozen people turned out to the Lone Butte Community Hall on April 23, Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Area L Director Bruce Rattray says almost everyone at the hearing supported the general idea.

“There was one couple that expressed a concern for the potential of having an industrial-style medical marijuana production facility established in a rural residential or recreation area.”

Those folks were from the Watch Lake area, and didn’t think it would fit well into their community, he explains.

From what he could gather, Rattray says the rest of the group was comprised entirely of members of the Interlakes Economic Association.

“They were all in favour of this as an economic opportunity. So, their concerns were mostly that the proposed bylaw amendments were too restrictive in terms of where operations could go.

“They didn’t like the idea of having it only in a Heavy Industrial Zone (HIZ), and thought it should be more flexible than that.”

He says CRD Area H Director Margo Wagner and CRD development services manager Karen Moores joined him in discussing various ideas and concerns with the group.

Rattray explains that by the end of the meeting, supporters were leaning toward establishing a separate, Medical Marijuana Zone for these commercial operations instead, rather than adding it on to the existing HIZ.

“It’s probably a little bit unusual, but I understand there are examples of going this route in other areas.”

One fellow in attendance commented he had seen a suitable model in place in the Okanagan, he adds.

“It was a special zone apparently, and it had a fairly large minimum lot size requirement and a substantial setback from property lines, which was what we were trying to get at with the [HIZ].”

Noting this is an interesting idea, he says it would also result in every single property proposed for medical marijuana production having to go through the CRD’s rezoning application, public hearing and approval process.

However, the final decision on any potential changes will consider more than just the results of all three local meetings, Rattray explains.

“The South Cariboo has its own bylaw, but we are dealing with them all at the same time … we want to have a consistent approach throughout the regional district.”