A cannabis quandary for Delta farmland

Before it’s too late, the provincial government should halt any cannabis production on prime agricultural lands until a proper analysis of what it could mean to food production.

That’s what Mayor Lois Jackson is hoping following a discussion at council this week on a motion put forward recently by Central Saanich’s municipal council calling on a moratorium.

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A similar motion Jackson wanted for Delta would have read: “Be it resolved that the City of Delta requests the Premier of British Columbia and Minister of Agriculture place a moratorium on the further use of Agricultural Land Reserve lands to grow cannabis, while it performs a minimum of six month review and broad consultation with farmers, municipalities, cities, industries and the public on the use of the Agricultural Land Reserve Lands for the growth and production of marijuana.”

Council decided to first seek comment from Delta’s agricultural advisory committee and the Delta Farmers’ Institute.

Last fall, cannabis producer Canopy, the country’s largest licensed producer, announced it had partnered with a local large-scale greenhouse operator to form the joint venture BC Tweed. That greenhouse operator turned out to be SunSelect. The joint venture would see millions of square feet of greenhouse space in Langley and East Delta converted to grow cannabis. A fence has already been erected around the East Delta facility on Hornby Drive where many hundreds of thousands of square feet, initially, will be converted to pot.

Already given the green light by Health Canada grow marijuana, today Canopy announced that it received additional licensing for even more square footage of production.

Meanwhile, the large Village Farms International greenhouse in East Ladner, in partnership with Emerald Therapeutics to form the joint venture Pure Sunfarms, got the go-ahead recently to grow medical pot in advance of the legalization of cannabis this summer.

A third East Ladner greenhouse, said Coun. Ian Paton, is also planning to switch to pot.

Those three operations alone would eventually leave millions of square feet of greenhouse space, which was once dedicated to food production, growing marijuana. The City of Delta is concerned that could be just the beginning.

Also Delta South’s MLA and the Liberal agriculture critic, Paton said when greenhouses were being built over prime agricultural soils in Delta, it was a big controversy. However, they were going to at least grow food.

Paton added the DFI hasn’t taken a position yet.

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