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Final stamp put on cannabis legislation; no grow ops proposal defeated

City council passed final reading of the Zoning Bylaw amendment late last month that included several points pertaining to cannabis.

There was no smoke or fire as the city took its final toke on the document that will legislate the use, production and sale of cannabis in Grand Forks.

City council passed final reading of the Zoning Bylaw amendment late last month that included several points pertaining to cannabis.

However there was no discussion on the bylaw amendment when it finally passed July 23, the final stamp on a piece of legislation that had been several months in the making, including a segment of public consultation.

However, one aspect of “public concern” was not heeded regarding allowing cannabis grow operations to set up in the city. As they did in June when Coun. Beverley Tripp asked council to not allow people to set up grow operations in Grand Forks, council did not discuss or act on a letter from Langley Mayor Jack Froese in July that asked for a moratorium on facilities growing cannabis within municipal borders

Tripp initially iterated that the public meeting regarding the Zoning Bylaw amendment — which defined the zones and location criteria where cannabis retail sites and production, processing or distribution facilities could operate — revealed that a lot of people were concerned about the agricultural impact of a cannabis grow operation, noting it might lower property values, creating offensive odours and light pollution.

“We have very few areas in town that are really going to be available as an option for commercial production and so, on behalf of those residents that brought those concerns forward, I would like to propose that there be no production and processing facilities within city limits,” she said.

City deputy manager of Operations and Sustainability, Cavan Gates, said there might not be much danger of a grow operation even setting up in the city, since zoning restrictions and land availability were limited.

“When you are talking about cannabis growing facilities, you are realistically talking about one or two acres,” he said, since the vast majority of the city would be excluded from grow facilities.

Tripp’s amendment was defeated as the Zoning Bylaw amendment was given a last look before opening for third reading.

Sign of the times

Cannabis business signage from a controlled highway was debated prior to third reading, with the proposal that no cannabis signage or building face or be adjacent to a controlled highway, and that cannabis signage not be clearly visible from a controlled highway.

The amendment replaced the 50-metre buffer zone from a controlled highway as was first proposed. Municipalities have the right to control signage within the community.

The intent was to not see overt cannabis business advertising when driving through Grand Forks.

The intention of the section was just to have the buffer on the highway such that it wasn’t overtly cannabis businesses visible to people driving through the city, said Gates.

The compromise between no buffer and some buffer, that takes into account store fronts and commercial locations that might actually face the highway and fall within 50 metres of the highway, Gates explained.

Cleaning up the bylaw

Also included in the amendment were five minor “housekeeping” changes, including cannabis retail sites being permitted to locate in the core commercial and neighbourhood commercial zones and in industrial zones.

However, they must be located at least 100 metres from the nearest parcel boundary of a lot in a community use zone, 100 m. from the nearest parcel boundary of a lot having a youth-centred facility and 100 m. from the nearest edge of building of another cannabis retail site.

In addition, the front face of a building and any signage may be no less than 50 m from a controlled highway.

Cannabis production, processing and distribution would only be allowed in specific areas within industrial zones where they are not within 100 m. of a residential zone, community use zone or a youth-centred facility.

Council gave third reading to the Zoning Bylaw amendment and directed city staff to forward the bylaw amendment to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approval.

Minor amendments

The proposed bylaw clarifies the wording within the rural residential (R4) zones with respect to minimum parcel size for subdivision, increasing the minimum size of parcel where both water and sewer existed to 2,500 square metres, clarifying permitted dwelling types, and adding that manufactured homes as secondary dwellings are subject to the regulations of the Agricultural Land Commission.

The minor amendments would add a clause which permit mobile homes to be placed on lands zoned R-1 (single and two-family) and R-2 (small lot residential) south of the Kettle River in the North Ruckle and South Ruckle neighbourhoods only.

As well, the maximum height requirement for accessory dwelling units (i.e., garden suites/carriage houses) would be increasing from 4.8 m to 7.6 m.

“This will allow a livable accessory dwelling unit (carriage house) to be built above a garage or workshop, and at the same time ensure that large monolithic structures are avoided,” noted the city staff report to council.

The height increase would not apply to other accessory buildings such as storage sheds and would only apply to the R-1 and R-2 residential zones where accessory dwelling units were permitted.

Another amendment would increase the floor area maximum for all accessory buildings on a lot in the R-1 (single and two-family) and R-2 (small lot residential) zones to “not more than the lot coverage of the principal use.”

Currently, the lot coverage of all accessory buildings (including accessory dwelling units) cannot exceed 50 per cent of the lot coverage of the home.

“This increase would provide property owners with more flexibility for siting and building garden suites, or workshops, particularly when the principle residence is small,” the report noted.

— Source: City of Grand Forks