Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on a zoning change request to allow micro-cultivation and production of cannabis in an existing industrial building on a property off Field Road that is too small for the purposes of the current zoning.
At a regular council meeting on May 19, Sechelt District Council gave second reading of an amendment that will reduce the minimum lot size to 2,000 square meters for a property at 1862 Cosyan Place, triggering a hearing public.
The minimum lot size for micro-production and cultivation of cannabis is 3,000 square meters.
The zoning amendment “is part of the process of legalizing a previous operation,” said Sven Koberwitz, acting director of development planning with the district.
A 780 square meter (8,400 square foot) building was constructed on the property in 2012 and has been used for growing cannabis ever since, “leased to individuals for the production of medical cannabis,” according to a staff member at February report.
The applicants seek to establish a facility in the building with a 200 square meter (2,152 square foot) “crescent canopy”, “and in accordance with Health Canada regulations”.
Coun. Tom Lamb withdrew from the discussion and the vote, declaring a conflict of interest as he owns the property.
The Sechelt District Planning Advisory Board (PCA) backed the request with a resolution in March, BC Hydro and the Sechelt Fire Department had no concerns, while Vancouver Coastal Health recommended that an engineer perform an assessment “to determine whether the existing sewage system is adequate for a potential increase in flow rates or changes in wastewater characteristics associated with cannabis production.” “
The Council carried out the first reading of the request last February.
In a separate application considered at the May 19 meeting, council also approved an exemption permit for the development of another cannabis production facility at 2224 Field Rd., At the junction of Sechelt Airport Forest Service Road and from Forest Service Road towards Dakota Ridge.
The applicant wishes to add a 483 square meter (5,200 square feet) micro-cannabis production facility inside a newly constructed building on the property, which is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
Since the building’s footprint is not enlarged, it is permitted to be used for indoor cannabis cultivation and production, in accordance with ALR’s use regulations.
However, the building is approximately 60 meters from the property line, which is not allowed under the district zoning by-law, which requires a 100 meter setback for micro-cultivation of cannabis.
Such a setback is “difficult to achieve,” a staff report said, as the roads cut the property in half.
In addition, instead of creating a landscaped buffer zone around the entire 15 hectare lot, the applicant requested that only the perimeter of the building be stamped.
Residents live on lots immediately to the south, but are more than 100 meters away, and according to staff, “there does not appear to be any conflict planned to reduce setbacks.”
Federal regulations require odor controls.
No stakeholder objections were reported, while the APC requested more details on the building and lighting and an updated landscaping plan to tone down the appearance of the building.
Council supported the changes on the condition that the applicant provide a revised landscaping plan.
However, during the discussion, Lamb expressed his frustration with the process, noting that a berm and other landscaping already exists around the property that over time would obscure the building. “I think it was a waste of time,” he said. “It’s a 30-acre parcel on the very outskirts of Sechelt.”
He congratulated the staff for their work on his project. “They were very thorough with me and did a great job on my project, but it’s in the bush. Somehow there has to be a short circuit for this as we would have saved a lot of staff time and energy. “
Mayor Darnelda Siegers noted that the gap is supposed to allow the developer to “come up with an alternative within the framework of the policies that we have put in place” so that it can move forward “in the most reasonably profitable manner”.
She noted that the cannabis regulations added to the zoning by-law are relatively new, passed in 2019, and suggested that council may review them.
“When we developed this policy, no examples were presented to us. Now we are starting to see examples coming, so maybe this is an opportunity for us to go back and look at the policy that we have put in place, ”she said.
Administrative Director Andrew Yeates said staff had limited delegation powers “under certain circumstances”, but these authorities were often removed from bylaws at Sechelt “many, many years ago”. He said staff were looking to see if “any of these items are reasonable to put back in place.”