Sixteen properties will be able to apply to grow marijuana in new buildings on farmland under rules previously in place. Applications for three additional locations aren’t affected by new city regulations as they are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

No exception for small grows as Abbotsford passes tougher pot rules

Sixteen properties in the ALR will be grandfathered in

The City of Abbotsford moved last week to outlaw new cement-bottomed marijuana grow facilities while ignoring a plea to exempt small-scale “micro” growers from the new rules.

The new rules close a door that opened when the province declared earlier this year that growing marijuana on farmland would be permitted by default, even if it’s growing in a building.

While cities had retained the ability to consider applications to grow pot in the ALR on a case-by-case basis, the province’s surprise move gave automatic legal status to such operations – although municipalities retained the ability to outlaw cement-bottomed marijuana farm buildings.

To deal with the changes, the city passed a bylaw banning marijuana growing except where specifically permitted by the province. Those rules require marijuana to be grown in a field, in a building with a soil bottom, or in a legally built and unaltered greenhouse constructed before July 13, 2018.

Before council’s unanimous vote to move forward with the rules, representatives of a pair of companies had asked for exceptions.

Susan Chapelle, the director of government relations with Pasha Brands, urged council to relax rules for “micro growers” with buildings smaller than 1,000 square metres (10,763 square feet).

Her company says it works to assist existing small-scale growers get their pot into the legalized market.

“Abbotsford already has hundreds of cannabis cultivators operating within the local municipality and contributing to the local economy, including supplementing their farm income,” Chapelle told council.

Chapelle, along with the company’s lawyer, told council that allowing for small “micro-cultivation facilities” would help farmers, the city and the local economy.

“By not allowing existing producers an avenue or a route into the legal framework, Abbotsford will be perpetuating the current underground economy, which will incur higher municipal costs and lower revenues,” she said.

Council, though, declined to exempt small growers from the new rules, although Mayor Henry Braun said the issue would return to council after the city’s AgRefresh process concludes and with future decisions made by senior government regulators.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ali Ghahary urged the city to expand the number of properties grandfathered in under the old rules. Ghahary is involved in a company that had submitted a letter of intent to the city notifying it that an application was to be submitted to the federal government to grow medical marijuana on Abbotsford’s farmland.

The city had already grandfathered in nine properties that had begun the process to apply to construct a growing facility.

Ghahary said his company plans to conduct medical cannabis research and had begun the process of applying to set up a grow location in Abbotsford one year ago.

He said his company had submitted a letter of intent to the city about its Health Canada application. But Ghahary said that, when he expressed a desire to apply to the city itself a couple weeks ago, he learned of the new rules.

He said his application to Health Canada was tied to a specific Abbotsford property that can’t be changed.

“If we don’t move forward, all this time energy and money has gone away,” he said.

Council agreed to allow Ghahary’s group and six other companies that had submitted letters of intent to apply under the old rules. That will bring to 16 the number of properties where marijuana could potentially be grown under the old rules. However, the owners of those properties must still receive approval from city hall for their plans.

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

RELATED: Abbotsford hopes to restrict new marijuana grow applications


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Symphony in the Park

Free concert at Mill Lake featured Abbotsford’s young orchestra talent

VIDEO: Abbotsford police arrest man suspected of using pepper-spray against another man

Police cruisers collide in pursuit of suspect fleeing on a stolen bicycle

Heffernan to be acclaimed as Abbotsford Liberal candidate

Author and Jati Sidhu assistant to face-off against Ed Fast

Man charged with robbery of Abbotsford bank has multiple convictions

Mitchell Mousseau, 48, turned himself in to police on Aug. 11

NBA talent coaching at BC Bounce camp in Abbotsford

Former Dallas Mavericks guard Kyle Collinsworth coming to town

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Most Read