The rural community of 100 Mile House could soon become one of the first to establish a craft cannabis production facility, but before those plans can be finalized, the district is seeking public input to consider the bylaw amendments that would accommodate such an endeavour.
“This is something that’s new, it’s never been tried before,” explained 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall. “They know it can be successful and I guess they’re going to make it successful.”
The District of 100 Mile House will hold a Public Hearing on August 20 to review the Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No.1356 as well as the Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1357, which would enable the development of a cannabis production facility on the Exeter Truck Road.
Council has already approved the first and second readings of those proposed amendments.
Local Nigel Hemingway is the agent representing the landowners who applied to the District seeking the two proposed amendments. Hemingway is acting on behalf of the landowners, Bridge Creek Estate, and is a legal land surveyor by profession. He is also involved with development planning and rezoning in the area and within the municipality.
Campsall said that the district’s official Community Plan is always concerned with job creation and bringing new business into the community. He feels that if passed, the proposed facility could bring a lot of new people into the area.
“It’s council’s endeavour to bring economic diversity to the community, and jobs,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be great. It will bring people into our community to learn and get educated.”
The proposed craft cannabis production facility would also include an educational component, said Campsall.
He noted that council has been aware of the project for about two years, but said that it has taken time to address “the legalities of marijuana growing and making sure the bylaws are all in line so that it can be done.”
Campsall said that there has been a lot of interest in the cannabis industry from the community, but noted that such endeavours are expensive, and the process is complex, too.
Joanne Doddridge, director of economic development and planning for the District of 100 Mile House, said that the public hearing was originally set for September, but was stepped forward a few weeks so that council could deal with the proposed amendment sooner.
“Council is amenable to sometimes having special meetings so that we can not make developers wait so long,” she explained. She echoed Mayor Campsall’s comments, noting that there has been an ongoing discussion for the past few years around how the local government would handle cannabis legalization and the changing legislation that surrounds it.
To her knowledge, the Community Plan has been amended many times in the past, but never for this specific purpose.
“At the last council meeting, council adopted Bylaw 1348, which is a zoning bylaw, that now does permit cannabis production in the light industrial zone.”
Doddridge said that council wants to hear from the public, and invited residents to share their thoughts by attending the upcoming public hearing or by submitting their comments to the district office beforehand.
“If somebody is in favour of the application, they are also welcome to submit something in writing, it’s not just if they’re opposed. If they have anything that they feel they want to say, this is their opportunity to say it so that council will be able to hear from folks.”
The public is welcome to inspect the proposed amendments during regular municipal office hours, and may also present their concerns at the public hearing, which begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20 in council chambers.
The proposed amendments propose a change in the district’s Community Plan for the subject property from commercial vehicle-oriented to industrial. The applicant has also requested an amendment to the zoning of the subject property, from smallholdings (A-2) to light industrial (I-1).
Doddridge confirmed that the district has received many inquiries on the subject, but until recently, when the appropriate bylaws were put in place, the municipality was not accepting applications.
“Basically, council decided where they would like to see retail cannabis sales in 100 Mile,” she explained, confirming that any proposed dispensaries would be allowed to set up shop along Birch Avenue. “But that was only just adopted Tuesday.”
Before the bylaw was approved, the district was not receiving applications from individuals or the province.
“Now that our bylaw is in place we will be accepting applications for retail cannabis sales, but we’re not accepting the application directly,” she said. “We’re accepting referrals through the province. So if somebody wants to open a retail cannabis store, they have to make an application to the province for a license, and the province will refer that application to us.”
The district will accept applications for a period of about six weeks, with the first intake closing on Sept. 13.
“Anybody who is interested in doing that will have to make an application to the province which will then get referred to us for further decisions,” she explained. “The province will not issue a licence for retail cannabis sales without the local government’s express approval.”
Doddridge invited residents to visit the district website, which features all necessary application steps and relevant bylaws.