The City of Maple Ridge has placed a moratorium on all cannabis-related land-use applications until its bylaws are in order.
The new ban will be in place until the zoning bylaw for cannabis production and processing is revised by staff and passed by council.
Discussing the issue at a Sept. 10 workshop meeting, councillors clarified they are not including retail operations in the moratorium.
The regulatory landscape around marijuana has been changing, said a staff report. Local governments are now able to prohibit and regulate non-soils-based cannabis production and processing on properties in the agricultural land reserve. The city cannot regulate or prohibit growing or processing if it is in the ALR and entirely soil-based – with no concrete. It also cannot regulate an operation if it is within a pre-existing structure such as a green house, or if it was under construction by Aug. 15, 2018.
Councillors talked about neighbour complaints about odours and light pollution from the Tantalus Labs greenhouse in Whonnock.
Coun. Kiersten Duncan said councillors are also concerned about cannabis operations putting a strain on groundwater, saying there is potential for them to use 50,000 to 100,000 litres per day.
Several councillors expressed the need for light shades, odour filtration and having production facilities be connected to the city water system in the future.
In the long run, council’s decisions will help people in the industry, said Duncan.
“They’re going to have set rules and regulations to work with,” she said. “Right now, the ground is moving under their feet.”
Mayor Mike Morden said the city wants to create economic opportunities for responsible operators, and did not favour a long-term moratorium.
“If we don’t do this, we are going to leave room here for all of the illicit, illegal and under-the-radar operations.”
“We need to say no to certain aspects of this business, until it can be regulated,” added Morden.
Council will also write Health Canada, Metro and other regulatory bodies expressing community’s concerns about the impact of marijuana growing facilities.