Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Says Local Governments Can Regulate Pot Growth on Agricultural Land

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Says Local Governments Can Regulate Pot Growth on Agricultural Land

Article excerpt

B.C. says cities can regulate pot on farm land

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VANCOUVER - Local and Indigenous governments in British Columbia will be permitted to prevent marijuana production in their communities on land that is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve, but with conditions.

The Ministry of Agriculture said Friday the regulatory change is effective immediately and gives governments the right to prevent industrial-style, cement-based and cannabis-production bunkers in their communities.

However, the ministry said pot production can't be prohibited if it's grown lawfully in an open field, in a structure that is soil based, or in an existing licensed operation.

"It's not everything we were wanting, I don't think. It's a start," said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who has been outspoken against marijuana growing operations on the land reserve in her city.

The Agricultural Land Reserve, or ALR, is a provincial designation that covers about 46,000 square kilometres in B.C. where agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are restricted.

The changes pertain only to land within the reserve, because local governments can already regulate or prohibit pot production on lands outside the reserve.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities, the voice of local governments in the province, had asked the provincial government to put a moratorium on the use of agricultural land to grow cannabis.

Jackson said she was pleased the province had taken some action with the announcement Friday, but she described it as a "small step." She's concerned about the security risks and odour of cannabis operations in open fields.

She's also worried about the conversion of food crops to marijuana crops. There is relatively little land in B.C. to grow food, but nearly 100 square kilometres of it is in Delta, and it would be a "travesty" for the province to rely on other countries for food, she said. …

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