The District of Metchosin is prohibiting cannabis production and sales as a precautionary approach to protect agricultural land, according to Mayor John Ranns.
The District’s land use bylaw was amended on Oct. 15 — just prior to legalization — and states that “no person shall use any land, building or structure for cannabis production, cannabis sales or medical cannabis production.”
Production is, however, still allowed in certain areas such as the Agricultural Land Reserve, where it legally cannot be prohibited.
Ranns said that a public hearing about the matter was held and was well-attended, although he was out of town at the time.
He noted the amendment is just temporary and will be re-visited to ease up on some of the restrictions once more direction is given from the provincial and federal governments.
“There is such uncertainty with regards to regulations … we adopted a cautious approach,” Ranns said. “We basically restricted everything we could legally do with the thought being that as we became more certain about what the province and feds were going to do … we’d open that up at the time.”
The main concern, Ranns said, is to protect farmland in Metchosin.
“We don’t want to have greenhouses with cement floors stuck all over our agricultural land,” Ranns said.
He also said that enforcement of rules like allowing four plants per household is difficult with a limited amount of resources.
Ranns said council did not want to set a precedence of no restrictions and then have to add them later. He said it will be easier to remove restrictions as the District sees fit when the time comes.
“I believe I can speak for the council when I say that we do support the legalization of cannabis,” Ranns said. “But these generalized positions can really come back and bite you if you don’t really do your homework on what the unintended consequences of any bylaw that you write are.”
Ranns said he thinks community members are supportive of these actions as well, noting that two of the District’s councillors who took a cautious stance in regards to cannabis were just re-elected.
“I suspect that the majority of the community appreciates our initial caution,” Ranns said. “We’ve got a lot at stake here in terms of protecting our farmland.”