Regional District of North Okanagan politicians are heading back to the drawing board when it comes to medicinal marijuana.
Third reading of a bylaw outlining where facilities growing and processing medicinal marijuana can be located in the electoral areas was postponed Wednesday so possible changes can be made to the document.
“We need a bylaw that’s not overly onerous,” said director Bob Fleming.
The postponement came after a public hearing in which operators of medicinal marijuana facilities protested the bylaw stipulating that operations in the rural zone would only be allowed on properties eight hectares (19.77 acres) in size.
For industrial zones, a medical marijuana production facility would not be permitted on lots smaller than one hectare (2.47 acres) in size.
“A lot of the industrial spaces are less than that,” said one operator of a facility in the Swan Lake area that is less than one hectare in size.
The Swan Lake facility has been operating under current federal rules and the owners have applied for a license under new regulations that come into force April 1.
“We are a legal entity and we pay taxes. Our goal is to improve the economy,” said the operator.
A rural Enderby facility is located on 4.5 acres.
“My facility is 2,600-square-feet in size. Why do I need 20 acres?” said the operator of the rural Enderby operation. “How does that address concerns about noise and odour. There is a big mill in Armstrong and there’s homes right across from it and you can smell it.”
Director Mike Macnabb says RDNO’s goal is to ensure the growing and processing of marijuana occurs in appropriate locations.
“Health Canada has dropped this in our lap and we have to deal with it and we can only deal with it through zoning,” he said. “We’re taking a cautious approach and saying larger (property) is better.”
Fleming is suggesting that the eight-hectare requirement be dropped, at least in his area of BX-Swan Lake.
“They (property) need to be completely tied to the size of the facility,” he said, adding that he recently toured a facility.
“There is zero odour. It’s quite high-end and a substantial investment.”