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City of Richmond aims to weed out pot on farmland

Proposed provincial regulations consider the production of marijuana on ALR acceptable
delta marijauna
Covering over 100 acres, the Village Farms greenhouse at Highway 10 and 80th Street is to be one of the biggest pot producers in Canada

The City of Richmond is asking the B.C. government to impose a temporary prohibition on the use of lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for cannabis production.

Richmond city councillors have long opposed marijuana facilities on farmland for a number of reasons, including a concern that increased pot cultivation will squeeze out other produce.

Council believes any cannabis facilities should be built on industrial land instead.

However, this conflicts with proposed provincial regulations, which consider the production of marijuana on ALR acceptable.

“That overwrites our regulations,” Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the city, told the Richmond News.

“If somebody wants to bring forward a proposal to grow cannabis on farmland, we wouldn’t be able to prohibit it for now.

“So we are writing to the province to request that they put a temporary prohibition on it.”

For now, the city is trying other controls such as putting requirements on designs of greenhouses to “minimize the impact on the farmland long-term,” according to Townsend.

Meanwhile, the city will continue to prohibit cannabis retail in all zones, as retail cannabis stores are subject to municipal government regulations, according to the province.

People can only open cannabis stores in Richmond by seeking the approval of council through a rezoning application.

As for large-scale commercial cannabis facilities — medical or recreational — the city will only allow a maximum of one to be built in Richmond.

Townsend added that council is also urging the province to provide timely revenue sharing information on cannabis, since the city will need to plan for the financing of cannabis-related measures.

The staff report on cannabis regulations was approved by councillors at the general public meeting Monday afternoon and carried to next week’s council meeting.