Burns Lake bylaw clears way for medical pot facility

Burns Lake bylaw clears way for medical pot facility

Medical cannabis facility allowed in heavy industrial zones

A proposed pot-growing facility in the Decker Lake area is one step closer to reality following changes to Burns Lake bylaws making cannabis an allowable activity in heavy industrial areas. Council approved the amendments just after a public hearing that exposed division over a medical marijuana facility proposed by the company Nations Cannabis for the Moe Road industrial site.

The village council chamber was overflowing into the lobby as the public hearing began. Village staff read several letters from residents opposing the project — including one accusing council of choosing “profits over people” — before giving the floor to residents who showed up for the public hearing, which lasted more than 45 minutes.

Several people living near the heavy industrial site on Moe Road — where the abandoned Burns Lake Specialty Woods (BSW) mill is located — spoke in opposition to the medical cannabis project. Common concerns included fears that local wells would run dry and that property values would fall. Many were concerned about a strong odour potentially emanating from the facility.

Security was another concern that some residents raised. “If people are intent are breaking in and they’re not familiar with the area, they might think my greenhouses are the grow-op,” said one resident. “I might have some criminal element come across my property.”

D’Arcy Bell, a Decker Lake resident who previously distributed flyers to mobilize the neighbourhood against the project, said that he’d estimated the water, electricity and carbon consumption, and that it would “astronomical.”

But most of the speakers at the public hearing said those concerns were overblown. “There’s a lot of misconceptions being told here,” said Chief Dan George of the Burns Lake Band. He said he was confident that the facility’s ventilation systems would filter the odour of cannabis from the air.

Many residents said the facility would provide badly needed jobs for the community. One speaker remarked that a decline in forestry could hollow out Burns Lake and cause property values to drop. “If we don’t have an industry here of some kind, what’s going to happen to your property values?” he asked, prompting applause from members of the audience. “What are we going to do in town if there’s no work to go to?”

Burns Lake Band Councillor Ryan Tibbetts said that he toured a medical cannabis facility in Ontario and that no smell could be detected until you entered the doors of the sealed area where the plants grow. “Even then [the smell] wasn’t that strong,” said Tibbetts, who also noted a strong security presence around the facility. “I didn’t find anything wrong with the site.”

Another resident talked about how medicinal marijuana had helped his sick relatives, including his father, who suffered from ailments including polio and arthritis. “The only thing that helped him was smoking weed,” he said. “That kept him calm, relaxed [and] his shakes went away.”

Marc Storms, one of the business partners involved in Nations Cannabis — who took part in the hearing by speakerphone — said the project would require an estimated 1,600 gallons of water daily, but that due to the recycling of water in the system, the actual usage would be 400 gallons, and that with rainwater collection, the company would have a surplus of water.

In response to concerns about the environmental impact of the project, he said there would be no toxins or chemicals involved. “You can’t say that for the finger-joint mill that was there before,” said Storms.

But one speaker remarked that most of the people in favour of the project don’t live in the Decker Lake area. “It doesn’t affect the people who are for the thing, or voting for the thing to make it go through,” he said, referring to the fact that Decker Lake residents can’t vote in Burns Lake elections.

At the end of the hearing, the room quickly cleared out. Few were present for the discussion by the mayor and councillors, who also spoke in favour of the bylaw amendments and expressed confidence in the proposed facility. “This won’t be a bunch of hippies sitting in a tent,” said Councillor Charlie Rensby.

Rensby added that it would be important for Indigenous developers to have an opportunity for self-determination in the project, which is slated to be First Nations-owned and co-managed.

Mayor Chris Beach also stated that he didn’t disregard the concerns of Decker Lake residents.“We all know that we’re part of the same community,” he said. The motion was carried unanimously.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

RDBN. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
RDBN to invest upto $96,501 in Cleanfarms pilot

To participate in the three-year long agricultural plastics pilot program

The library staff assembled over 70 seed packets. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake Public Library to distribute seed packets

Southside residents to get seed packets through WOW bus

Candice Little accepting the cheque from Pabbi Singh; [Back row L-R] Manager Harsh Joshi and chef Shahjuddin Khan. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Tandoori Grill raises $300 for the Burns Lake food bank

Plans to distribute a hot meal in April at the food bank

Mike Silk’s rover Chasing M2 recovering a bottle at Agate Point. (Mile Silk video still/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake local on an underwater mission

Hoping to explore lakes while leaving them cleaner

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read