North Saanich’s community agricultural commission has signalled its non-opposition to plans for a cannabis cultivation facility in the municipality in a motion. Councillors received and referred the motion earlier this month, but the application still faces a number of hurdles. (Black Press Media File)

North Saanich’s agricultural commission ‘not opposed’ to proposed cannabis facility

Conversion of former chicken farm into cannabis facility still faces obstacles

It does not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, but plans for a cannabis production facility in North Saanich passed a legislative hurdle Monday.

North Saanich council meeting as committee-of-the-whole unanimously received and referred to staff a motion from the municipality’s community agricultural commission, which says that the commission “is not opposed” to council approving amendments to the zoning bylaw allowing cannabis production at a former chicken farm.

Coun. Celia Stock picked up on this language in her remarks.

“Their motion is to say that it [the commission] is not opposed to council approving the bylaw, which I found very interesting,” she said.

The commission approved its initial motion on Jan. 8, 2020 following a presentation from Rushco Properties, a group of local entrepreneurs consisting of Rawleigh Rushfeldt, Carl Sorenson and Cam McLennan, who is also a former Sidney councillor.

The company plans to convert an abandoned poultry farm on John Road in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) into a cannabis production facility, with the proviso that the company does not plan to grow cannabis in the facility itself. It instead plans to lease the facility 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.

Approval, or in this case, non-opposition from the municipality’s community agricultural commission, marks a positive development for the entrepreneurs, as they try to establish an industry that has in the past faced opposition from the community at large and elected officials in North Saanich, opposition that has been fading in the past year or so. This said, the application still faces a number of other hurdles.

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

RELATED: North Saanich won’t ask cannabis-related company for financial contribution

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

Councillors also received and referred a motion from the commission that attempts to revive — albeit in a different form — attempts to extract some additional payments from the would-be-cannabis facility.

The motion specifically calls on the District of North Saanich to “consider whether cannabis production or other ventures not producing food for human consumption should pay into its Agricultural Reserve Fund.” (An earlier, eventually abandoned, motion spoke of a “perspective grower of cannabis.”)

The Agricultural Reserve Fund is a non-statutory reserve fund that allows council to use some or all of its available funds for six agricultural-related purposes, including agricultural land purchases and various initiatives around the environment and climate change that benefit agriculture. Fifty per cent of commercial land tax revenues from the Sandown lands, 50 per cent of cell tower revenues, and any additional funds that council allocates flows into the fund.

Council earlier raised, then backed off plans to speak with Rushco Properties about making a financial contribution to agencies dealing with substance abuse and addiction. Councillors had narrowly approved the initial wording in early December, when the company had first presented its plans, with Coun. Jack McClintock, a former cop and critic of the cannabis industry, leading the way.

McClintock then changed his course in saying that the earlier motion was not appropriate.

“The intention of my argument [in early December] was in the industry in general, more broader than this particular applicant,” he said. McClintock said he did not want this motion to single out a business, adding that North Saanich can continue to make its case on the cannabis issue through regional and provincial municipal organizations.

McClintock, for the record, voted in favour of the non-opposing language from North Saanich’s community agricultural commission, a body with some sway as almost 35 per cent of the municipality lies within the ALR.


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

Loose pets in the car can cost $109 fine, says Saanich cop, plus ICBC points

Unsecured pets at risk of injury, can lead to hefty fines

Weather cancelled 0.22 per cent of scheduled BC Ferries sailings in 2019

2012 was the worst for weather-related cancellations with 0.5 per cent

Former Belmont principal turns 15 in leap years

Ray Miller among the 0.07% of the population to have Feb. 29 as a birthday

Oak Bay adding stop signs to nine uncontrolled intersections

Residents on sleepier roads seeing more traffic, District says

Police watchdog looking for witnesses to arrests in Victoria’s inner harbour

One male left injured after arrests near Red Fish Blue Fish

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Comox 442 Squadron carries out two sea rescue missions north of Vancouver Island

Submitted by Lt. Alexandra Hejduk Special to Black Press 442 Transport and… Continue reading

Most Read