A cannabis research and development facility is being planned for Kelowna. File photo

A cannabis research and development facility is being planned for Kelowna. File photo

Saanich wants bunkers to be off limits for cannabis growing

Saanich looks to block cement bunkers on ALR farmland

You can grow your weed in Saanich, just don’t grow it in a cement bunker.

Saanich Couns. Dean Murdock and Susan Brice have asked staff to consider a bylaw proposal that would ban the construction of “cement bunker” style buildings on Agricultural Reserve Land within the District of Saanich. The bunkers of concern are those used to produce high yields of cannabis crops, which is set to become legal for production, sale and consumption come Oct. 17.

Saanich council voted unanimous ly in aiming to preserve the local ALR by asking staff to research a bylaw proposal which would limit construction on local ALR land. Brice also suggested the bylaw present the same as Central and North Saanich, as all three Saaniches have expressed interest in the idea, which was suggested in a July 13 report from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We’re not saying you can’t grow your weed, or smoke it, we’re just saying we are concerned about the future of ALR land,” said Murdock, the outgoing three-term councillor who will not seek re-election in October.

The province’s new regulation “allows local governments and First Nations to prohibit the altering of existing structures to increase the size or material used as the base of the structure, and applies, or will apply, to licensed medical and non-medical cannabis facilities in the ALR” said the report.

“The fear is we’ll see a proliferation of concrete-style bunkers on farmland which will render the fields otherwise useless,” Murdock said. “We’re more concerned with activities as part of the production that is detrimental to farmland.”

Saanich will not have the power to restrict the production of cannabis on ALR land. Greenhouses are also still permitted, and many use a cement pad.

reporter@saanichnews.com