Development variance permit sought for cannabis nursery in Nanoose Bay

Committee endorses application for RDN board’s approval

An application for a development variance permit has been submitted to the Regional District of Nanaimo for a property in Nanoose Bay, for the purpose of operating a cannabis nursery.

It was submitted by Fern Road Consulting Ltd., on behalf of the property owner Mark Qvist, to have the setback of the property boundaries for three existing buildings located on 1636 Island Highway East in Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) reduced.

Rachel Hamling, representing the consulting firm, informed the Electoral Services Area Committee at its July 14 meeting that there is currently an application for a federal licence to operate a cannabis nursery with Health Canada but it needs the RDN board’s support, as the buildings to be used for the proposed operation do not meet the setback requirements in the bylaw for cannabis production that included nurseries.

Hamling said that in order to use the buildings for the proposed cannabis nursery, they must be set back 30 metres from all lot lines and 60 metres from all lot lines adjacent to non-ALR residential uses.

READ MORE: RDN to as B.C. government for moratorium on outdoor cannabis growing

“They (existing buildings) are solid and in good condition,” said Hamling. “We feel it would be more sustainable to use the existing building than to tear them down and replace them.”

The Electoral Area Services Committee after Hamling’s report unanimously endorsed the variance permit application but will still require the approval of the RDN board. The committee also supported the required public notification for the development variance permit to be completed.

The proposed cannabis nursery would package and ship the plants to licensed producers directly prior to the budding stage. Hamling said there are advantages to this type of cannabis operation.

“Because the plants are harvested before the budding stage, the smell of cannabis would not be an issue,” said Hamling. “There would be no complaints from the surrounding areas with regard to the smell. There would be no health risk to people with allergies.”

The cannabis plants will be grown in a sealed room system with no air flowing or venting into the open air, Hamling explained.

“From a climate safety perspective, these plants are of much less value as they are harvested and shipped before they bud,” said Hamling. “The value is in the cannabis buds and so there will be no buds on site at all. This project would not attract any additional crime or vandalism.”

The business would require only three to four employees and there will be no buying and selling directly from the site.

As for the impact it will have on the environment, Hamling pointed out all the plants and cuttings are Health Canada approved as they will be used by licensed producers.

“The company uses a biological program that eliminates any need for pesticides,” said Hamling. “The same program are used by all licensed producers including indoor and greenhouse vegetable producers. So this project has zero environmental and human health risk.”

The nearest neighbour to the proposed nursery is more than 100 metres away said Hamling. The owners did inform neighbours of their business plan and receive a letter of support.

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