Officials with a company looking to bring 130 jobs to Squamish are concerned a pending change to the town’s zoning bylaw will prevent the operation from getting off the ground.
Last June, Leaf Cross Biomedical Inc. submitted an application to operate a federally sanctioned medical marijuana grow operation, with Squamish as one of its possible locations.
Company president Brant Little wants to build a large facility in the Squamish Business Park, close to Tim Hortons and Rona. Permits are in place, he said. The company aims to start construction in March.
“It would take six to eight months to build,” he said.
The project, however, is up in the air, as District of Squamish officials sort through a list of zoning and Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments. Council has directed staff to prepare a bylaw that would prohibit the use of land within municipal boundaries for federally licensed medical marijuana grow operations.
“I got the funding in place, as well as all the issues [paperwork],” Little said, noting even if council doesn’t pass the amendment, the municipal process will roll into March.
At a meeting to discuss proposed changes to the OCP and zoning bylaws on Monday (Jan. 27), district staff removed discussion of issues surrounding urban agriculture — including medical marijuana and backyard chickens — and a proposal to ban new drive-throughs from the agenda. They will be dealt with separately, district planner Elaine Naisby told attendees. A public hearing will be held for each issue.
The medical marijuana issue has been raised as part of the discussion about land that is zoned for industrial use in the downtown area, Coun. Susan Chapelle said. Some residents and councillors are concerned about such facilities’ impact on nearby residential areas, she said.
Medical marijuana operations are required to include security and high-tech ventilation systems, Chapelle said. Officials shouldn’t ban such facilities outright, she said.
“This is an industry that will be paying industry taxes,” Chapelle said.
First and second reading of the medical marijuana zoning bylaw is anticipated to take place late next month, district spokesperson Christina Moore wrote in an email to The Chief. A public hearing is likely to occur in March, she said.
The bylaw regarding prohibiting drive-throughs is slated to hit first and second reading in late February or early March. A public hearing is slated no later than early April. No dates have been set regarding the backyard chicken discussions, Moore noted.
The overall omnibus amendment is scheduled to go to public hearing by mid-March.