It was a packed house last night at Spallumcheen council for a public hearing on a proposed marijuana growing plant on Pleasant Valley Road.
Valens Farms wants to build an up to 400 thousand square foot facility on 50 acres of land, with the first section a 40 thousand square foot operation.
The end product would be sent to the company’s processing operation in Lake Country.
Mayor Janice Brown understands the opposition from many people who turned out.
“These people are frustrated. For twenty years marijuana’s been an illegal drug. It’s like putting a prison in between two residential houses.”
Mayor Brown says council’s hands are tied for the most part because the Right to Farm Act allows cannabis growing on farm land.
“They kind of got it that, you know, things are going to change drastically come October 17th and can we stop everyone. No we can’t and will there be one’s that we don’t know about, possibly.”
Brown notes 55 per cent of Spallumcheen is farmland and there is a lot of speculation going on about other applications would be coming forward.
Company officials tried to reassure the crowd that the impact on the neighbouring lands would be minimal, but Brown says people aren’t happy.
“They’re worried about the noise. They’re worried about the smell. They’re worried about the security. You know you take a 50 acre alfalfa field and you put a 40 thousand square foot steel building with barbed wire fence and people are worried.”
Council did approve a zoning text amendment bylaw with some restrictions including extending setbacks from neighbouring residential properties.
That bylaw goes to the Agricultural Land Commission before going back to Council, which then would approve a development permit.
Mayor Brown says the company is already working on drainage but has yet to drill a well.
If everything goes through without any hitches, construction could begin next Spring.
The licence application currently is for medical marijuana growing, but can be converted to recreational later.