BC municipalities want moratorium on farmland being approved for cannabis production

Jul 13 2018, 1:49 am

A group representing BC’s municipalities has asked the provincial government for a moratorium on approving already-designated farmland for cannabis production, due in part to worries that it could “displace” food production and fertile farmland would be lost.

“Cannabis is grown in greenhouses, and these greenhouses are built on concrete pads,” said Kerry Jang, a Vancouver City Councillor and executive with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).  “The concrete pads mean the soil is excavated and lost forever.”

Greenhouses are preferred by the industry, he furthered, “as the controlled environment allows greater yields, and limits any cross-pollination risks.”

Jang told Daily Hive that the consensus among UBCM members is that while they want to see the industry supported, “these types of operations for recreational cannabis can be built on parts of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that has poorer quality soils.”

The issue of cannabis production on ALR land “has been a hot topic for years and there have been resolutions at convention on the matter,” said Jang. “The issues of odours, safety, and food security, have all been raised.”

Jang said at this September’s convention, he believes there are two more resolutions asking for a moratorium.

“The previous BC Liberal government took away any powers municipalities had on managing ALR land and dictated that medical cannabis shall be grown – period,” he said. “With no local controls, there is a fear that a lot of the ALR – especially category 1 soils – would displace food production.”

As to how long such a moratorium would last, Jang didn’t give a specific time period, but said it would be temporary.

“The ALR and ALC are being reviewed by the province, so we would like cannabis production as part of the review that focuses on appropriate soil management,” he explained.

“We want to see the industry supported, and get the right land use in place for all crops – be they food, flowers, or cannabis.”

Jang said the issue has been raised with the provincial NDP, which “has been very good,” with UBCM on cannabis regulations.

“When we spoke to them about it they were genuinely listening,” he said. “We’ll see what they decide.”

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