The District of Central Saanich is proposing new regulations on marijuana grow ops in Central Saanich, both on agricultural and industrial land.
In 2015, the provincial government ruled that cannabis growing was an acceptable use of ALR land, and local governments cannot overrule that decision. However, local governments can regulate some specifics like lot coverage, buffer zones and drainage. In addition, not all farmland is contained within the provincial ALR, so on those lands, local government can choose to prohibit it completely, and they are proposing exactly that. At a March 26 Public Hearing, District staff presented some detail.
Jarret Matanowitsch, Director of Planning Services for the district, explained at the hearing that staff studied other jurisdictions and designed the proposal to place recreational and medicinal marijuana growing under the same local bylaws. Staff propose bylaw regulations for farmland both inside and outside the ALR as well as light industrial zones.
On most agricultural land, there are no rules for lot coverage and smaller setbacks. For cannabis, the District is proposing to limit cultivation to ALR lands only, with buildings at 35 per cent lot coverage, setbacks of 30 metres from property lines and 100 metres from the ALR boundary, and setbacks of 150 metres from schools, parks, and institutional-use areas. For industrial zones like the Keating Business District, Central Saanich staff propose the same 150 metre setback from schools, parks, and institutional-use areas, and a 60 metre setback from residential, comprehensive, and mixed-use areas.
A series of speakers were generally supportive of District efforts, and some wanted the District to go farther and contest the growing of marijuana on ALR land and trying to prohibit retail outlets, which was outside the scope of this particular hearing.
Coun. Alicia Holman asked to delay the close of the public hearing until they could get feedback from the Central Saanich Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Peninsula & Area Agricultural Commissions, which passed.
The public hearing will resume April 16 at 6 p.m., which will provide those commissions time to research and report back.