A Castlegar property owner would like to build a micro-cannabis cultivation facility at the edge of the Forest Road/Grosvenor Place neighbourhood.
A zoning amendment request related to the project came before Castlegar city council for the first time Dec. 7.
The owner of 1370 Forest Rd. is seeking to construct a 598 square metre medical-grade cultivation facility. The property is currently zoned “light industrial” and a cannabis facility would not be permitted under that designation.
When introducing the bylaw amendment, Castlegar’s planning manager Meeri Durand acknowledged, “Staff do anticipate that this zoning amendment … may be slightly contentious within the community.”
She said it’s for that reason that this proposal is being brought forward early in the process.
“We are only giving it first reading at this time so there is the ability to engage the community and prolong the engagement period beyond what is the norm,” said Durand.
The property in question is currently used for storage and warehousing. The owner’s proposal calls for the existing warehouse to remain in place and a new building to be constructed on the east corner of the property bordering Forest Road and 14th Ave.
The owner proposes a 46 foot by 140 foot single-storey building. It will be “completely self-contained and surrounded by an attractive type fencing and landscaping that will fit in with the industrial and residential buildings that already exist in the area.”
If approved, the owner expects the facility to employ five to 10 people.
According to the accompanying report in the Dec. 7 council agenda package, the Municipal Services Department expressed some concerns regarding servicing the property and residential impacts should the project move forward.
The report also says the Regional District of Central Kootenay expressed concerns regarding potential conflict between industrial and residential adjacent land uses, as well as maintaining the “rural character, environmental integrity, and the social and cultural diversity” of the area.
In order for public consultation and a more detailed look at a property owner’s plans to occur when a zoning amendment is requested, a first reading of the bylaw must be passed by council.
Councillor Florio Vassilakais immediately voiced his opposition to the project and opposed even taking the first step in passing the first reading of the associated bylaw.
His main contentions were the location being an interface between light industrial and residential, and the potential for odours affecting the neighbouring homes.
Councillor Maria McFadden was also opposed on the grounds of not liking the location.
The zoning amendment proposal will now be referred to the Advisory Planning Commission for review. City staff will begin the necessary notifications, referrals and scheduling of a public hearing to allow the public and developer to weigh in on the proposal.
The applicant must also provide the city with information on how the facility would comply with the Health Canada regulations regarding cannabis production facilities, including potential nuisance to adjacent properties.