Castlegar neighbourhood celebrates after cannabis facility proposal withdrawn

A medical grade cannabis facility was proposed for Forest Road

A Castlegar neighbourhood is rejoicing after a developer has rescinded a proposal to build a medical cannabis cultivation facility on Forest Road.

Residents in the Forest Road/Grosvenor Place neighbourhood at the west end of Castlegar began to strongly voice their opposition to the project as soon as it was announced.

The proposal first came before Castlegar city council on Dec. 7 in the form of a zoning amendment request. During the question period of that meeting, a number of residents spoke to council and several emphasized that they would be lobbying strongly against the project.

At the meeting, city councillors Florio Vassalakakis and Maria McFaddin stated they were opposed to the proposal as well.

A Facebook group called Stop a Grow Op From Being Built on Forest Road sprang up as a place for the neighbours to organize and communicate. Plans were made for yard signs. City councillors were contacted.

According to Meeri Durand, the city’s planning and development manager, the application has now been voluntarily withdrawn by the applicant.

Meagan Salekin has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 15 years. She has been very outspoken against the proposal and played a role in encouraging others to do the same.

“I think we played a significant part,” she said of the group of residents.

Salekin even spoke directly to the developer.

“I have a tendency to be forthright, and I was that way with him as well,” said Salekin.

Salekin says the group’s main concerns were potential smells from the facility, loss of value to their homes, increase in insurance premiums and security.

“We take it more for a victory for the whole town, not just our neighbourhood,” said Salekin. “We don’t want this [type of facility] in anyone’s neighbourhood.”

She wasn’t impressed that the city allowed the proposal to move forward at all.

“The city has a plan as to where [cannabis facilities] should be,” said Salekin, referring to the zoning area near the airport that allows for cannabis facilities.

She hopes in the future, that proposals outside of that area don’t even make it to the zoning amendment stage.

Salekin says the silver lining in the ordeal is that the neighbourhood has grown closer together and more supportive of one another. She is looking forward to a day post-COVID when the group can gather to celebrate.

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betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com
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