Commercial pot-growing operations should be allowed only in industrial areas, City of Kelowna councillors unanimously agree.
It wouldn't be desirable or appropriate to have pot-producing businesses set up shop on agriculturally zoned lands, councillors say.
"I can't visualize beautiful orchards, apple trees, and then, boom, right in the middle, you have a (marijuana) facility," Coun. Mohini Singh said.
"The (marijuana) facility is inconsistent with agricultural land," said acting mayor Gail Given. "It's best fit is within industrial lands."
Council agreed to forward three policy changes relating to commercial pot growing operations to a public hearing set for March 18.
Interested parties can have their say at the meeting, but given the unanimity of councillors' current opinions, it seems likely pot-producing ventures will be restricted to the I-2, I-3, and I-4 industrial zones.
Another class of industrial zoning, the I-1, is not being considered because the category has a broader definition of acceptable businesses. Those include day cares, restaurants and offices, so councillors say the potential conflict with a pot-producing business is much greater than within other, more traditional industrial zones.
After April 1, the approximately 1,000 Kelowna residents who have federal licences to grow pot at home for medicinal use will no longer be able to do so.
They are supposed to destroy all their marijuana plants, and buy their supply from a new commercial grower. But so far, Health Canada has not given licenses for any commercial marijuana productions in Kelowna.
"We could have none being approved for Kelowna (but) we expect there will at least be a few," city clerk Stephen Fleming told council.
About 20 people, with varying degrees of seriousness, have so far expressed an interest in finding out what city regulations will apply to the business of commercial marijuana production, council heard.
Health Canada says the commercially produced marijuana must be grown indoors, in a secure building.
Many other cities have already taken steps to ensure commercial pot producers will be limited to industrial zones.
"It can't be grown as an outdoor crop, like corn," said Coun. Robert Hobson. "So to me, it makes sense to focus on industrial zones."
Based on direction given by council last year, city staff have been telling people for months that it was likely commercial pot productions would be allowed only in industrial zones.
Some people who have been hoping to start commercial pot productions on farmland are disappointed with the direction being taken by the city.
"It just doesn't make good sense to recommend that an agricultural product cannot be grown in an agricultural zone," say Marlys and Grant Wolfe, owners of Falcon Ridge Farms, who had planned to grow organic marijuana at their Kelowna property.