New BC regulations allow local governments to ban some pot grows on ALR lands
The Agriculture Ministry has new regulations that allow local and Indigenous governments to control -- to a certain extent -- how cannabis is grown on Agricultural Reserve Lands in their communities.
They will be able ban industrial-style cannabis-production in cement-based bunkers on ALC land, but not marijuana grown lawfully in an open field, in a soil-based structure, or in an existing licensed operation.
One of those who has been calling for protection of ALR lands when it comes to marijuana grows is Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor:
" Well my initial first reaction is this is a great step by the provincial government with respect to use of agricultural lands as we obviously share responsibility between the ALC and local government for regulation of the agricultural land reserve. They obviously are superceding us in terms of legislative authority. So it's good that local governments who have asked, including ourselves ... we started this process about 6 or 8 months ago now asking the provincial government to take some action because we had some legitimate and serious concerns. And they have now taken those in response to, I guess, local government action by Central Saanich."
The new regulations are effective immediately. Central Saanich was concerned that cement-based structures are impermeable, and would create drainage issues.
While pleased with the news -- Windsor acknowledges some may still be concerned about lucrative marijuana grow ops taking up ALR lands with soil-based operations:
"But for the time being we see a provincial government as well as staff at the Ministry of Agriculture being responsive, so that to me is a very positive step in the right direction. And any concerns that could arise I suspect we'll deal with them in the future."
The Union of B-C Municipalities had asked an advisory committee looking at revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve to determine if growing marijuana on that land was the best use of the property.