Maple Ridge council has given third reading to its bylaw to establish zoning regulations to allow commercial production of medical pot in Maple Ridge’s Agricultural Land Reserve areas.
The district is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland that is pushing pot production to farmland.
That policy has been supported by a statement from the Agricultural Land Commission, that it considers commercial medical pot operations to be legitimate uses of ALR land.
Other municipalities want medical grow operations, under the new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, to be in industrial areas.
“I don’t think we can make decisions based on what other people are doing,” Mayor Ernie Daykin said.
The regulations require minimum setbacks from property lines. Buildings have to be 60 metres from the front and side property lines and 30 metres from the rear property line and from all streams.
Medical pot operations also have to be at least 200 metres from schools and no closer than a kilometre from each other.
Agrima Botanicals has applied for a Health Canada licence for its Maple Ridge location.
The mayor said he toured operation earlier this year and said it fit in with the surrounding neighbourhood.
If Health Canada grants the licence, Agrima will be allowed to produce the pot under the new commercial marijuana regulations, which kick in next April 1.
“It looks like a horse barn, with no horses in it,” Daykin said.
“Standing outside the vent, there was no odour.”
He was pleased with the bylaw. “I’m going to take a little bit of credit for Maple Ridge.”
The district has been wrestling with the issue since 2009.
Council staying put
Maple Ridge council is going to keep holding its workshop meetings in the smaller Blaney Room rather than in the regular council chambers, which is fitted with a sound system and recording ability, despite the suggestion by Coun. Corisa Bell.
She had asked that the meetings which take place on Monday mornings be held in regular council chambers so they could be recorded, until the Blaney Room has been fitted with such equipment.
But at its Nov. 26 meeting, most of council wanted to remain in the Blaney board room, where staff and council sit at a large table.
“We’re going to keep it the way it is,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.
“I think you lose something if you create a formal setting.”
Staff, however, will research what will be required to improve the sound system to allow the meetings to be recorded.
Taxpayers will have a better idea where their dollars are going next month if a motion by the mayor gets council support.
Mayor Ernie Daykin filed a notice of motion Nov. 26, asking that itemized expenses from each councillor be posted monthly and that they be attached to the monthly report showing the district’s accounts payables.
Daykin was responding to a letter from Katherine Wagner of Council Watch, asking for more details about councillor spending.
Daykin said he often hears complaints about councillors and their expenses. But except for the odd community event, Daykin said he pays for most of the expenses he incurs as mayor from his own pocket.
He added that Port Coquitlam has started the same process.