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Residential pot ban approved in Langley Township

A planned ban on medical marijuana growing in residential neighbourhoods has been approved by Township council.

But the fate of another proposed ban, on using Langley farmland for the same purpose, remains up in the air.

The vote on the residential ban at the Feb. 24 evening meeting of council took less than a minute. It was unanimous.

The regulation is aimed at the many small medical marijuana grow-ops that are currently licensed by the federal government to provide product.

After March 31, all of the small-scale growing licenses issued by the federal government are set to expire under new medicinal marijuana regulations that take effect April 1.

That’s when growing will switch from the current system of small operations with one or two clients to larger commercial-style bulk growing.

The just-approved changes to the property safety bylaw would impose a fine of at least $500 and as much as $10,000 a day on anyone who currently has a medical marijuana production licence if they continue cultivating pot plants after the law changes.

The Township also wants to ban marijuana production on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that makes up 75 per cent of the Township, but has yet to get a response from the provincial government to the proposed regulation that would restrict growing to industrial areas.

Langley, Abbotsford, Delta and Kelowna are required by law to get provincial approval for any regulations that might affect farming within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) inside their borders.

On Feb. 18, Township Mayor Jack Froese and Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman met with provincial Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm in Victoria to press for a decision before the law changes.

Froese said the provincial minister was noncommittal.

“They’re not commenting one way or the other,” Froese said.

The Langley mayor said he and his Abbotsford counterpart told the minister that a decision needs to come before April 1.

“There are people waiting for an answer,” Froese said.

“I expect it will come soon.”

The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the agency that administers the ALR, recently declared that medical marijuana growing on agricultural land is protected under farming regulations that override the the Township of Langley’s authority.

At least eight businesses, seven of them located on agricultural land, have   expressed interest in growing medicinal marijuana in Langley Township.

One of them, Koch Greenhouses owner Bruce Bakker, said the attempt to restrict medicinal marijuana cultivation to industrial areas was “troubling” because it was drafted without consulting farmers.

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