City says no to Rifle Road Grow Op

Kelowna City staff's recommendation to scrap a proposed medical marijuana facility on Rifle Road was approved by Council at Monday's meeting.

Staff argued that the grow op, proposed by Marlys Wolfe, did not comply with the City's Agricultural Plan or zoning bylaws, and that it would encourage similar facilities to pop up on farmland and have negative impacts on neighbouring agricultural operations.

Representatives of the facility insisted that it would be located on a non-fertile gravel parking lot, and would have no impact on farmers. They also stated that the facility was backed by Health Canada.

Following nearly two hours of discussions, Council voted 5-3 in favour of City staff's recommendation.

Councillor Mohini Singh was initially against staff's recommendation, until hearing concerns from her fellow councillors.

"There was a good reason why we have marijuana production in industrial areas only," says Singh. "I realized that this would open a Pandora's Box, so to speak."

In order for a grow op to operate in an industrial area, it costs $1 million an acre, while operating on farmland only costs a tenth of that.

The two-storey, 4,800 square foot facility's proposal dates back eight years. Even if Council had given it the green light, the developers would have had to seek approval from the Agricultural Land Commission before breaking ground.