Could Comox be the future home for a commercial pot production facility?

That was the focus of a public hearing last Wednesday night.

A proposed zoning amendment could pave the way for recreational cannabis production in Comox.

Comox Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1926 would allow recreational cannabis production in the 12.1 Aeronautical Industrial zone.

That’s the area around Knight Road and Military Row. 

Other than agricultural zoned land within the ALR, the only zoning designation that allows cannabis production is the 12.1 Aeronautical zone.

This zone has medical cannabis production facilities as permitted use.

The proposed bylaw has received first and second readings, but has not passed third reading or been adopted by council.

All who spoke at the public hearing opposed the rezoning.

Their main concerns were the smell, stormwater management, security and noise, and how a future facility will impact property values and new business opportunities in the area.

Representing 19 Wing Comox, LtCol. Steve Gillis, said they have very grave concerns about the odour, especially in harvest season, and security.

“Other municipalities have moved to ban cannabis growth in their areas as opposed to making it easier for folks to grow large quantities of marijuana,” Gillis said. “Other areas have sought to reduce its production because of the odour and because of the other effects, including things like security.”

Gillis said there is concern about kids and people from the base’s housing units within walking distance of the area “going to pick flowers so to speak in a whole new way.”

Adam Ho owns property near the affected properties.

He said his and his family’s concerns about the bylaw change are three-fold. Much of it is, he said, is “predicated on the lack of information on solutions for the challenges… that we seek.”

Ho said a big problem is stormwater. “Right now, the area is absolutely plagued with consistent and severe flooding and this type of development has the potential to cause further problems.”

He added that the town is looking at a northeast stormwater management plan, “but none of the details are available.”

“So given that the flooding has gone on for decades, I think it’s pretty logical to assume that the problem will continue,” Ho said.

His second concern is water use. “In that area, for Area B, I would expect that all the agriculture and certainly residential properties are on wells. My understanding is that this type of cannabis production facility would have significant water intensity use and that’s a pretty big concern.”

Finally, he mentioned odour: “It’s simply about the use and enjoyment of my property and potentially any resale value.”

Comox Valley Airport acting CEO, Adam Robinson, said a future cannabis production facility would take up available lands that could be used for the airport.

“We’re concerned that the proposed zoning amendment appears to run counter to the support for the OCP,” he said. “As we see it, the proposed zoning amendment jeopardizes our future growth in three major ways: first and foremost is through the potential loss of the limited aeronautical land. No. 2, speculation could lead to a dramatic increase in land prices, making it difficult for us to purchase any of those properties in the future.”

The third issue is increased land values could lead to higher property taxes, which would hike up airport operating costs.

Staff will now prepare a report on the zoning amendment for council.