Province holds power over Langley’s pot farming bylaw

The Township will wait for Ministry of Agriculture approval

A new pot bylaw will regulate everything from odours to greenhouse construction to noise for marijuana grown in Langley Township – if the provincial Ministry of Agriculture gives it the okay.

Township council voted Monday in favour of a new bylaw to regulate the growing of marijuana on agricultural land, adding a requirement for noise reduction to be considered by growers.

Some of the features of the bylaw include:

• Cannabis farms would have to designate a local contact person who can respond to issues

• Marijuana can be farmed in an open field, or in a soil-base greenhouse. Concrete-floored greenhouses used or under construction before last July also qualify

• There are setbacks from urban/agricultural boundaries, property lines, and streams and rivers

• Buffers are required between cannabis farms and residential land

• The business has to have management plans for air quality, stormwater, and wastewater

In addition, Councillor Margaret Kunst asked for an amendment that would add a requirement to attempt to reduce any serious noise, such as from generators. That has been an issue that caused complaints at existing marijuana farms in the Township.

Council voted in favour of adding that, but Ramin Seifi, the manager of engineering and community development, noted that farm noise was often considered to be normal farm practice.

“Noise is just considered to be a nuisance that just has to be accepted by those around the subject farm,” he noted.

With or without the noise segment, it’s unknown if the Ministry of Agriculture will sign off on the bylaw.

Langley Township is one of four municipalities in B.C. that are “regulated” by the ministry and face some limitations on what sort of bylaws they can pass when it comes to farming practices.

“We just don’t know, it’s a bit of a vacuum,” Township administrator Mark Bakken said of whether the bylaw will be successful or not.

Seifi noted that in many cases, the bylaw will mirror requirements that are already in provincial regulations.

If the provincial government rejects the bylaw, the Township will be able to modify it and submit another version in an attempt to win approval.

Langley Township has seen a number of commercial cannabis operations either start growing or preparing to ramp up over the past 10 months since the legalization of marijuana.

Longtime Langley-based greenhouse grower Bevo merged with a cannabis firm called Zenabis last year and is preparing a significant hemp and cannabis facility.

In South Aldergrove, the massive Canopy Growth greenhouse was the target of criticism from a number of neighbours who complained about the odour and light of the operation.

READ MORE: MLA Coleman calls for federal crackdown on marijuana greenhouse odours

READ MORE: Vertical farming for cannabis gets trial run in Langley

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