Former Sidney councillor Cam McLennan, who also ran in North Saanich’s 2019 byelection, is one of four partners in Rushco Properties. The company plans to lease the former poultry farm it owns in North Saanich to cannabis growers (Black Press Media File).

Cannabis cultivation in North Saanich vows to not cause a stink, could open as early as May 2020

Rushco Properties, which plans to lease the facility to pot growers, has already received interest

A cannabis cultivation facility coming to North Saanich will be using ‘best practices’ to ensure that security, noise, and odor won’t be an issue when they open.

“A lot of concerns are a little bit of hype, and they can all be easily dealt with,” said Cam McLennan, a partner in Rushco Properties. The company does not plan to grow cannabis itself. It instead plans to lease the former Claremont Poultry to commercial cannabis growers. The facility would not include a retail section. It stopped operating as a poultry farm in 1997 before Rushco Properties purchased it in 2018.

While the proposal has gained the initial support of North Saanich, several steps remain before cultivation can start. McLennan and his partners must submit stormwater management and agricultural liquid waste management plans. Council also tasked staff to review best practices in the Lower Mainland. Council will also have to review pending feedback from North Saanich’s agricultural and planning commissions with several more steps to come assuming positive feedback.

McLennan said cultivation could start as early as May 2020. “We have had some interest, and that is part of the reason, why we have decided to go down this road in the first place.” So how many people have shown interest? “I can’t say, unfortunately,” said McLennan.

RELATED: Cannabis cultivation: Former North Saanich chicken farm goes into pot

RELATED: North Saanich targets recreational pot on ALR land

RELATED: North Saanich politician calls for pot impact trust fund

This said, McLennan said he and his partners will hard to ensure that the facility is a good neighbour.

“As [property owners], we would tell any businesses coming in, that these are the rules, and if we have these problems, they need to be addressed,” he said. “We live here. I live right beside it with my three children. So if there are problems, it is going to affect me.”

North Saanich, he added, is a small, tight-knit community. “I know a lot of people out here and the last thing I want to do is come in here and create a stink.”

McLennan is hardly an unfamiliar figure in the region. The owner of a local landscaping company, McLennan sat on Sidney council from 2014 to 2018, and most recently ran in North Saanich’s byelection held in early 2019.

McLennan said he and one of his other partners, Rawleigh Rushfeldt, had been using the abandoned facility to store equipment, before deciding to purchase it.

McLennan said he and his partners opted against growing cannabis themselves because they lack the necessary knowledge. They would also be entering an industry with high start-up costs dominated by a handful of large growers. “We don’t have the capital,” he said.

But they do have a person familiar with municipal politics in the form of McLennan. He said that previous experience helps him and his partners understand the nature of the process.

“It can be very daunting for anyone, trying to get any sort of project off the ground, when you are working with a municipality. I definitely do have that knowledge, and it does help in certain ways [like understanding requests from staff].”

McLennan said reactions to his choice to enter the cannabis industry have been entirely positive. “Everyone says that’s great, that is awesome,” he said. “In regards to being a politician, it all comes down to the fact that this is a legal practice. Everybody says, ‘I wish, I had thought of this.’ It’s legal, it’s the law of land, and it might take some time, but people eventually get over the stigma of it.”

The proposal is not without its critics. Coun. Jack McClintock earlier this year voiced the biggest concerns in questioning whether the proposal is consistent with North Saanich’s strategic plan calling for a “safe and healthy community.” The harmful effects of marijuana are well-known, he said at the time, citing his experience of more than three decades in policing. McClintock also promised later that he would continue to lobby municipal governments, as well as the provincial government for ways to hold the cannabis industry responsible. Governments cannot afford to make the same mistake they made decades ago with tobacco, he said.

When asked about whether the cannabis industry should have to pay for addiction services, McLennan said cannabis already generates funding for such services through applicable taxes.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay driver flees on foot after collision on Beach Drive

Officers caught the driver shortly after

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Members of immunocompromised community seek more options to get groceries as online services are backlogged

One woman has decided to build a greenhouse to ensure she is able to access food throughout pandemic

Revamped Oak Bay Volunteer Services in need of donations, volunteers

Non-profit stares down challenge of helping seniors amid COVID-19 crisis

Sidney event marking end of the Second World War cancelled because of COVID-19

Town Crier Kenny Podmore plans to mark the occasion with a Proclamation of Peace

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Most Read