Abbotsford hopes to restrict new marijuana grow applications

After provincial rule change this spring, city left looking to craft its own rules

The City of Abbotsford is hoping to close a door opened to would-be cannabis growers by the provincial government earlier this year.

At issue is the specter of large concrete-floored greenhouses being built on precious farmland to grow pot.

Earlier this year, the provincial government declared all pot grown in the Agricultural Land Reserve is deemed a permitted farm use, even if it’s grown in a building. That means that producers don’t have to first go to the Agricultural Land Commission to get approval to start growing.

That change – which caught many municipalities by surprise – means that council can’t currently weigh in on such applications on a case-by-case basis, as had been the plan.

To address the switch, council voted Monday to restrict new cannabis-production applications as much as possible, while getting staff to craft a bylaw to put further rules in place. Those limits are likely to require the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Applicants who have already started the development process will be grandfathered in, but temporary rules will seek to limit new applicants to growing in an field, in a structure with a soil base, or in buildings constructed before last July.

The scope of the more-restrictive rules hasn’t been determined, but the province previously suggested that municipalities would be able to prohibit cement-based greenhouses and grow facilities.

RELATED: Three applications submitted to grow pot in farmland buildings

RELATED: Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

RELATED: Saanich to smoke out pot bunkers in Agricultural Land Reserve


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tolsen@abbynews.com

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