British Columbia

District of North Okanagan sends application for cannabis facility on farmland to tribunal

Directors are allowing an application for a cannabis production facility on agricultural land to go forward, despite vocal public opposition to the project.

Directors refused to cancel the application even though they have the power to

Many residents voiced concerns about Green Amber's non-farm use application to build a 100,000-square-foot facility with concrete floors on agricultural land in Lumby, B.C. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Regional District of North Okanagan is allowing an application for a cannabis production facility on agricultural land to go forward, despite vocal public opposition to the project.

The non-farm use application put forward by cannabis company Green Amber would see a 100,000-square-foot facility built on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land in rural Lumby, B.C.

Board chair and Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton said the district's board of directors decided to allow the application to go forward "without recommendation" at its meeting on Wednesday.

The application will be sent to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), an independent administrative tribunal comprised of appointed commissioners dedicated to preserving agricultural land in B.C., which will make the final decision about whether to approve the project.

Economic benefit

Acton said the facility will bring economic benefit to the community in the form of 35 full-time jobs.

"It's certainly going to have the opportunity to create some jobs and bring some economy to the area," said Acton told CBC Radio's Daybreak South guest host Brady Strachan.

"That would be substantial for a small community."

The application garnered significant opposition from community members at a raucous public meeting the company held last month at the request of the regional district.

More than 100 residents from the North Okanagan community showed up to voice their concerns that the concrete floor of the facility would destroy ALR land and that the facility would cause a decrease in the value of homes in the area.

Deferred to ALC

Acton said he understands the public opposition but believes the province should make the final decision.

"I think a lot of the directors feel that because of the government's position on marijuana or cannabis production, that they should be the ones to have the final sort of say on it," Acton said.

While cannabis is permitted to be grown on agricultural land, in July the province changed the rules to allow municipalities to decide whether to permit cement-based cannabis-production facilities to be built on the land.

Once the application is submitted by the district, commissioners from the ALC will evaluate it. The ALC website states the evaluation process usually takes 60 business days.

Listen to the full interview here:

The Regional District of North Okanagan is allowing an application for a cannabis production facility on agricultural land to go forward, despite vocal public opposition to the project. Brady Strachan spoke to board chard and Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton about the decision. 7:03

with files from Dominika Lirette and Daybreak South