A group of Castlegar residents, most from the Blueberry neighbourhood, heard from the proponents of a zoning change application for 4605 Columbia Ave. last week.
Representatives of OTG Developments, a consulting firm, hosted a public information session on Dec. 7 on behalf of Kind Industries Ltd. The company has requested that the 18-acre property be rezoned from the rural residential zone to light industrial. In addition, they are asking that an indoor, federally-regulated micro-cannabis production facility be permitted on the northern 12 acres of the property.
The property is already designated as light industrial in the city’s official community plan, but has never been rezoned as such.
The informational meeting was organized by the developers to introduce the project to the public. It was not an official or required meeting. Several city councillors attended the meeting, but just as observers.
What became clear at the meeting was that the developer has future plans, in addition to the cannabis facility, to utilize the rest of the property for other light industrial uses either through development or subdivision.
The consultants mentioned restaurants and a furniture manufacturing facility as potential options.
The consultants also addressed some of the crowd’s questions related to the cannabis facility including odour mitigation.
They said that the proposed facility would be air-tight and utilize negative pressure as well as special filters to keep odours from escaping. They also emphasized that the quality of their product is dependent on an air-tight environment to keep contaminants out, so the company was very motivated to ensure procedures are followed.
Residents expressed concerns over water use, but the consultants said the facility would only use about the same amount of water that a typical residence would use.
The proximity to the Blueberry neighbourhood was a big concern to many attendees. The consultants countered that the grade differential between the facility and the closest homes was a good buffer, as well as the fact that the closest homes were 200 metres away on the east side and 385 metres away to the south.
They also promised a 15-metre vegetative buffer zone at the property’s perimeter and that the buildings themselves would be “aesthetically pleasing.”
But that didn’t satisfy many in the crowd, who mentioned wanting to maintain the more rural life style Blueberry offers. Several attendees cited concerns over increased traffic and noise.
In order for the cannabis facility to get a license to operate it must first be in compliance with city bylaws, meet the requirements of the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch and be approved by Health Canada.
The city will likely hold an official public hearing on the rezoning in January. At that time the public will be able to voice their opinions to city council who will then take those comments into consideration before voting on the issue.
If the zoning proposal is approved by city council, the developers would still have to apply to the city for a development permit and be subject to form and character requirements for the facility. They will also have to look at traffic impacts and upgrade Dube Road, which is the primary access to the property.
Once the city has confirmed a hearing schedule information will be posted at castlegar.ca and on the signs at the subject property, and be reported in the Castlegar News.