Proposed cannabis production facility in Okanagan faces virulent local opposition

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Residents of the Regional District of North Okanagan have been protesting the creation of a cannabis production facility in Lumby, BC.

Cannabis company Green Amber Corporation has submitted an application to construct the facility on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a “provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use,” and in which non-agricultural use is heavily restricted. The proposed facility would measure 100,000 square feet.

The non-farm use application will now be forwarded to independent administrative tribunal the Agricultural Land Commission, which has the final say as to whether the project is approved. The tribunal consists of a group of appointed commissioners whose mandate is to protect the province’s agricultural lands.

Many members of the community are furious with the proposal, saying that the presence of the facility would lower their property values and that the necessary structures could damage valuable farmland.

Green Amber held a public meeting in February at the behest of the regional district, in which a group of approximately 100 locals made it clear that they strongly opposed the facility.

Although it is legal to grow cannabis on agricultural land in British Columbia, the province made changes to legislation last summer that gave municipalities the option to opt out of allowing production facilities with concrete floors to operate within their own jurisdictions.

Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton has said that although he sympathizes with residents’ concerns, the facility will create benefits for the community like the creation of 35 full-time jobs.

“That would be substantial for a small community,” Acton told CBC Radio.

The application will be reviewed and evaluated by the ALC once it is submitted by the district.

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