Nanaimo council voted to forward five resolutions to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities; the resolutions, taken as a whole, are meant to make it easier to grow cannabis on ALR land. STOCK PHOTO

Can pot farming save Vancouver Island agriculture?

Nanaimo suggests easing ALR rules to help farmers augment their income with cannabis

A Nanaimo city councillor is suggesting cannabis as a cash crop that could help make farming on Vancouver Island more sustainable.

Nanaimo council, at its meeting Monday, voted 5-3 to forward five resolutions to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities; the resolutions, taken as a whole, are meant to make it easier to grow cannabis on ALR land.

Coun. Don Bonner brought forward the resolutions and said right now, the ability to produce cannabis on agricultural land is limited by government regulation.

“The intent of this is, believe it or not, to increase our food sustainability in that we would have an option for local farmers to augment their income by producing cannabis and then continuing to do the farming that they like, instead of having to work off their farms in secondary jobs,” Bonner said at a Jan. 28 committee of the whole meeting when he first gave notice about his resolutions.

The resolutions include requesting that the provincial government deem cannabis growing as a farm operation, expand the types of acceptable greenhouse structures and allow for retrofitting of existing greenhouses for cannabis production.

Coun. Ian Thorpe voted against forwarding the resolutions to AVICC, saying they wouldn’t apply to any great extent within the City of Nanaimo.

“We have very, very minimal agricultural land reserve areas within the city limits,” Thorpe said at this past Monday’s meeting. “And this is not a topic that council has ever debated or discussed amongst ourselves. So to put it forward as something that our council is supporting, I don’t think is the case without having that discussion.”

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong agreed with Thorpe, saying she didn’t have enough information to support the resolutions and suggested they would be better brought up at the Regional District of Nanaimo table.

Coun. Zeni Maartman noted that a lot of the language within the resolutions is around exploring options, so she supported advancing the resolutions to the AVICC to be discussed there.

The resolutions passed with Thorpe, Armstrong and Coun. Jim Turley opposed.

The AVICC convention will be held April 12-14 in Powell River.

Also at Monday’s council meeting, councillors signed a code of conduct and redirected $1 million for waterfront walkway work.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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