COURTENAY, B.C- A move by Courtenay mayor Larry Jangula to increase the restrictions on marijuana in the city went in a different direction last week.
During the meeting on Tuesday evening, Jangula brought forward a motion asking for the creation and adoption of a bylaw to ban production, warehousing, wholesale and retail sales of cannabis within the city.
Another part of the motion instructed staff to provide council with anticipated costs to the city from cultivation, sales, and use of cannabis, and how to mitigate those costs.
It also asked for staff to tell council what the next steps and considerations would be once the provincial and federal governments have enacted rules dealing with cannabis.
The motion did not find much support around the table.
“It’s (the use of cannabis) been generally accepted by the government of Canada, so that’s why I would be totally opposed to this motion,” said Councillor Erik Eriksson, during the discussion.
“It talks about banning the production, warehousing, and wholesale retail sales of cannabis.”
“That may be the government’s position, but I don’t think it’s the public’s position or the majority of the public’s position,” said Jangula, in reply to Eriksson.
“That is one of those things we can debate another time.”
The discussion on the motion eventually led to Jangula voicing concerns about a proposed cannabis grow operation in the city’s south end along Fraser Road, and a motion from Councillor Doug Hillian to ask staff to prepare a report on tools available to regulate industrial production of cannabis on agricultural reserve land.
Councillors had been concerned about the operation using “bunker” grow methods, with concrete structures placed onto the land.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Jangula, after the meeting.
“The intent of my motion was that there is a lot of concern about a proposed, five acre, hundred thousand square foot cannabis grow operation, which is located at Fraser and the logging road, which is very near a number of residents and they have expressed to me a huge concern about smells and ongoing problems, not far from a proposed housing development near the Ridge.”
He did acknowledge that the original motion was broad in scope.
“We’re going to zero in the agricultural land part, we’ve already addressed the other part anyways, it’s already been addressed,” said Jangula.
“To me, the big concern is that agricultural land should be used for agricultural purposes. There is lots of agricultural land in the community that is not being used for agricultural land, that is not being used for agriculture.”
He believed the proposed facility would have a “huge” impact, if built on any of the agricultural reserve land within Courtenay, and was hopeful that some parts of the original motion might get brought back. As for whether it would pass, he didn’t know.
“That’s the million-dollar question right now,” said Jangula.
Courtenay’s municipal administration currently has adapted regulations on legal cannabis, with a temporary restriction on retail businesses and a definition of those businesses included in city bylaws.
According to Ian Buck, the city’s director of development services, the current idea is for each individual retailor to apply for rezoning, at the same time of referral from the province, which would allow the city government to do consultation for the rezoning and the license at the same time.
He also said that consultation has been done on best locations for cannabis retail in Courtenay.
City staff are still going through roughly 600 surveys, and plan to come back to council in September with more policy, based on the survey findings.